A version of this story first appeared in the BC Catholic
The remains of British Columbia’s aborted and miscarried children are ending up in an Oregon waste power plant, likely mixed with everyday trash and incinerated to provide electricity to the people of Marion Country.
So admits the British Columbia Health Ministry. Though no ministry official was willing to put his or her name to the following statement, the communications branch emailed the B.C. Catholic that “biomedical waste,” including “human tissue, such as surgically removed cancerous tissue, amputated limbs, and fetal tissue,” is disposed through appropriate contracted providers who follow health and safety protocols, as well as federal, provincial and local regulations. However, the ministry understands that some is transferred to Oregon. There, it is incinerated in a waste-to-energy plant.” No human waste is incinerated in British Columbia.
Health Minister Terry Lake had not by press time responded to questions from the B.C. Catholic as to whether she believed the people of British Columbia would want miscarried and aborted fetuses mixed with other garbage and burned to generate electricity.
The Ministry stressed in its statement that contractors handling B.C.’s human “biomedical waste” all followed “health and safety protocols, as well as federal, provincial and local regulations,” but then said all such waste is “ sent outside the province” where, presumably, none of the above applies.
“Pontius Pilate would be proud,” said John Hof, president of United for Life, a British Columbia pro-life lobby group. He added, “This points to a ludicrous disconnect in our society.” Referring to this week’s conviction of Sarah Leung for double infanticide in B.C. Supreme Court, he said, “We can convict someone of infanticide for disposing of a newborn baby, but if she had done it two weeks earlier there would be no penalty and the body would be on its way into the Oregon power grid.”
The disclosure that British hospitals were putting aborted and miscarried babies into their power plants was a one-day wonder in that country’s tabloids last month. One issue there was that parents of miscarried children had not been advised of the ultimate fate of their children’s remains. In British Columbia, the Health Ministry states, parents are given the option of securing conventional funeral and burial services.
The likeliest destination for the remains of British Columbia’s unwanted unborn is the Covanta Marion “waste-to-energy|”plant in Brooks, Oregon. According to Kristan Mitchell, executive director of the Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association, this is its only member generating energy from garbage. Covanta Marion is a co-operative effort of Marion County and Covanta, a national waste management operation.
A 2007 story in the Willamette Live, ironically titled, “Burn, Baby, Burn,” indicated the Brooks plant was at that time incinerating 800 tons of medical waste yearly. Covanta Marion spokesman Russel [sic] Johnston told the paper that this amounted to “less than half of one percent of the total waste burned” and that the medical waste came “in sealed boxes and is carried to the furnace on a conveyor belt which layers it with the rest of the solid waste being processed.” But many local residents were concerned about the impact of the operation, particularly of the “imported medical waste,” on the county’s air quality.
Last week Covanta Marion spokesman Darby Randklev confirmed the plant was still taking medical waste from British Columbia via Stericycle, an international waste management company with an operation in Port Coquitlam. As to whether Coventa’s British Columbian waste stream included the remains of miscarried or aborted babies, Randklev told the B.C. Catholic, “I couldn’t tell you about that.”
What else could be done with the remains of aborted or miscarried fetuses? An arm of the Archdiocese of Portland, Catholic Cemeteries, buries the remains of miscarried babies from all eight of the Catholic hospitals in Oregon, founded by the Sisters of Providence, at the Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Portland. The remains are collected and buried in mass graves quarterly, followed by a funeral service conducted by a hospital chaplain to which all the families are invited. Those who wish can have the name of their baby added to a memorial marker at the site.
“We do this because as Catholics we believe that this is a child from the moment of conception,” said archdiocesan spokesperson Mary Jo Tully. “We don’t believe it is just waste. When my mother died in Chicago, and the cardinal came to the funeral, my four –year-old nephew told him at the casket: ‘This is not my Nana. This is the place where she lived and we honor that body.’” Tully said that this was just as true of the bodies of all miscarried and aborted unborn children, Catholic or not. “Each is truly a child.”