Hong Kong opens first public facility for early-term foetuses

The Garden of Forever Love Image copyright Hong Kong Food and Environmental Health Department
Image caption People can apply for a plot in the Garden of Forever Love from 11 April

The Hong Kong government has approved the first public facility for the memorial of miscarried or aborted foetuses that have been lost before reaching 24 weeks' development, it's reported.

According to public broadcaster RTHK, the Garden of Forever Love was opened today (10 April) in response to increased demand for a public columbarium - a place for the respectful storage of funeral urns - for foetuses.

Located in Fan Ling in the New Territories East constituency, the facility is surrounded by flowers and has space for plots for 300 early-term foetuses, stands for flowers and cards, and a wall for commemorative plaques.

Memorial services are also offered, free of charge.

Only two such services have existed before in Hong Kong, but both are private: one is strictly for Catholics and the other is for permanent Hong Kong residents of Chinese ethnicity.

No longer classed as 'clinical waste'

The local Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said that the site was erected because: "we fully understand the worries and anxieties of parents who may encounter difficulties in arranging proper burial or cremation" of their miscarried or aborted foetuses.

Local paper South China Morning Post (SCMP) says that burials of early foetuses have previously been difficult, because those under 24-weeks-old do not meet the requirements for death certificates or cremation permits.

RTHK says that they were previously classed as clinical waste and were sent to landfills.

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Health Secretary Sophia Chan told the broadcaster that applications for plots will open tomorrow and that she anticipates further public facilities being erected across the island.

"The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has plans to further increase this type of facility in other columbariums," she told RTHK.

The Hong Kong College of Family Physicians last year told SCMP that nearly half of all Hong Kong pregnancies end in miscarriage.

"The trend towards marrying later in life, stressful lifestyles and environmental pollution have only exacerbated the problem," SCMP said.

Reporting by Kerry Allen

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