Hong Kong promises law review after couple fail to claim 15-week foetus labelled 'medical waste'

HONG KONG - Appeals by a couple who wanted to bury their miscarried child may prompt a law review in Hong Kong.

The couple, known by their pseudonyms Kevin and Angela in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), have been jumping through bureaucratic hoops since April as they tried to give their 15-week foetus a proper burial.

Princess Margaret Hospital classified as "medical waste"the foetus they named Wally.

Public hospitals do not recognise a foetus lost less than 24 weeks into pregnancy as a life, but Kevin and Angela, devout Catholics, wanted the body of their child back.

Mum Angela said that she was haunted by the thought that her son would be dumped among waste like discarded syringes and bloodstained dressings, and shipped to a landfill, SCMP said.

"It's like an open wound that won't heal," Angela told SCMP.

The hospital later said they would let them take the foetus back if they arrange a burial for the body, but they were left in limbo again as the hospital would not issue the necessary documents for cremation or burial in a public facility.

As Hospital Authority policy did not regard the 15-week foetus as alive, it could not be given documents for public cremation and burial.

The couple has since asked the Catholic Church for help.

Under-secretary for Food and Heath Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee promised to work towards reviewing the law, SCMP said.

But with less than a month until the government's term ends, she also said the task would fall to the next administration.

Labour Party legislator Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, who raised the issue on behalf of Kevin and Angela, suggested the amendment would likely be a form of exemption on certain documents, rather than a change to the 24-week mark.