Cop Fail: Couple Investigated For Trying To Cremate Miscarried Fetus


Because apparently there’s…no procedure for this sort of thing.

According to a profile in the Los Angeles Times, freelance writer Jessica Tebow and her psychologist husband Michael Ohlde were deeply saddened when they learned the fetus’ heart had stopped, and Tebow opted to miscarry naturally. After doing so, she was told by a doctor she could freeze the remains until deciding what to do with them. Ultimately, Tebow and Ohlde decided to have the remains cremated.

Then things got farcically horrible. The mortuary said they’d need a death certificate.

Police immediately swarmed and searched the apartment. They found the fetus’ remains in the freezer and took them away for investigation; the couple, needless to say, was shocked.When, later, the cops sheepishly allowed Ohlde and Tebow to cremate the remains, there was vague talk of “Exigent circumstances,” and it became clear that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, from the doctors to the coroners on down.

The truth is, though, that there really isn’t much procedure in place for this sort of thing…while it’s standard to give a stillborn or late-term baby a burial or cremation, it apparently doesn’t come up much this early in the pregnancy. But when someone miscarries at home, it’s not as straightforward as in a hospital: quite simply, Tebow didn’t want to throw the remains away. And to help other women with a similar dilemma, she’s called upon a local legislator to help get some guidelines in place. For instance, if a doctor had given better instructions they could have avoided the situation, and the mortuary should have known that before 20 weeks, a death certificate isn’t necessary. There’s also a newly-formed Miscarriage Support Group of Southern California, which will serve as a resource for exactly this sort of situation.

It’s a tricky one in some ways because of course it touches on a lot of issues that can easily become political – but if ever there were a time for “choice” in the true sense, it seems like this is it. While such treatment of early miscarriage is probably uncommon, Tebow’s dilemma sound genuinely troubling. And however one might personally deal with such a situation, it does seem like police involvement probably shouldn’t be a part of that solution.

Couple’s attempt to do the right thing brings more grief [LA Times]

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