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Publication - Dr Sheelagh McGuinness

    Reproductive loss and disposal of pregnancy remains


    Austin, L & McGuinness, S, 2019, ‘Reproductive loss and disposal of pregnancy remains’. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, vol 70., pp. 131-153


    In this paper we examine the legal framework which governs the management of pregnancy remains in the context of reproductive loss; specifically pregnancies which reach an unwanted end prior to 24 weeks’ gestation. It is important to consider the role for law as it is clear that law has the capacity to shape the nature of the care that people receive and their experience of bereavement at the time of reproductive loss. The unwanted end of a desired pregnancy can have profound consequences for those who experience it. How we respond to the needs of these individuals will have important consequences not just for their well-being, but it can also impact their future reproductive experiences. Furthermore, the original empirical research on which this paper is based demonstrates how healthcare practice in this area is problematic in its inconsistency, and in failures to account for the particular needs of the person who has suffered an unwanted end to pregnancy. Because appropriate healthcare is properly determined in this context by the perspective of the individual, we argue that healthcare professionals should, as a matter both of good practice and of law, follow the individual’s lead when seeking to understand their needs. Accordingly, we advocate for the importance of all legal options for disposal of pregnancy remains being discussed when a person who has suffered reproductive loss wants that information and present practical measures that can be introduced to ensure this happens.

    Full details in the University publications repository