THIS WEEK IN 1987: Request to move abortion cremations

Opening of the new school by the home secretary in October 1927. The headmaster, Canon Barton, is on the lowest step, on the left. Dorothea Barton is possibly there, somewhere. (PGS Archive)

NOSTALGIA: A red bluestocking at Portsmouth Grammar School

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Aborted foetuses from St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth, could not be disposed of at Portchester Crematorium, its governing group decided.

Councillors representing Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport and Fareham said if the request was granted crematorium stuff could be subjected to demonstrations by pro and anti-abortion pressure groups.

The hospital’s management team wanted to send the foetuses boxed in batches of up to eight for cremation at Portchester.

At the time, foetal remains from either spontaneous abortions or from legal abortions carried out by doctors were incinerated in the hospital furnace.

Since 1985, parents of stillborn babies had the option of the infant’s cremation at Portchester as an alternative to its burial at Milton Ceremony.

Cremation superintendent and registrar Chris Johns said: ‘The hospital management view is that the service could provide comfort to families concerned.

‘It is not a clear-cut legal issue as it involves ethical matters about which there is no common agreement,’ he added.