NC leaders change law that had kept stillborn fetuses from being cremated together

Dan and Kristin Christensen
Dan and Kristin Christensen

The N.C. General Assembly has changed a law that had forced a grieving Apex couple to send the remains of their stillborn baby girls to Virginia to be cremated together because North Carolina prohibited it.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill making the change into law this week.

With the change, it’s still illegal in North Carolina to cremate the remains of more than one person at a time within the same cremation chamber, except when the crematory has express written direction to cremate together the remains of multiple fetuses from the same mother and the same birth; or the remains of multiple children up to the age of 1 year from the same mother and the same birth.

In addition, the legislature has ordered the state Department of Health and Human Services to study the issue and make a report to lawmakers in the 2020 session as part of a larger effort to improve maternal and neonatal care in the state.

Dan and Kristin Christensen had turned to legislators for help in May after their first pregnancy, twin girls who shared a single amniotic sac, ended in a surgical stillbirth at 22 weeks. Because the fetuses had always been together, the couple wanted their remains to be cremated together.

State funeral laws specifically prohibited it. The law likely was written to protect consumers from the commingling of the remains of loved ones.

The Christensens finally arranged to have the remains cremated at a facility in Virginia, which already had an exception to the rule.

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