(The following information is valid exclusively in Italy and is therefore for information only in English-speaking countries.)

embrione a due mesi di gestazioneThe smallest and most helpless beings are conceived and unborn children. Since they are always human beings, even if little, when they die (that is, of a miscarriage or induced abortion), they must be buried in the same way as stillborn children or children who die after their birth.

This is the underlying principle of Italian legislation which, with Presidential Decree n. 285 of 10 September 1990, prescribes:

Art. 7, sub-section 1: Regarding stillborns, subject to the provisions of Art. 74 of R.D. 9.7.39 n. 1238 on the regulations of civil status, the established provisions of the preceding articles are followed.

Art. 7, sub-section 2: Regarding the burial of abortive products of a presumed gestational age from 20 to 28 complete weeks and of fetuses that have presumably completed 28 weeks of intrauterine age and which aren’t declared to the registrar as stillborns, the authorization for transport and burial is issued by the Local Health Unit.


Art. 7, sub-section 3: At the parents’ request, even products of conception of a presumed age of less than 20 weeks can be gathered in the cemetery following the same procedure.

Art. 7, sub-section 4: In the cases provided for by sub-sections 2 and 3, the parents or representative must submit an application for burial to the Local Health Unit within 24 hours from the expulsion or extraction of the fetus, accompanied by a medical certificate that indicates the fetus’ presumed gestational age and weight.

Art. 50, sub-section 1: Cemeteries must receive (…) stillborns and the products of conception referred to in Art. 7.

embrione a quattro  mesi di gestazioneThe Presidential Decree is completed by the Ministerial Circular of 16 March 1988 issued by the then Minister of Health Donat Cattin, which literally reads: “It is believed that as a rule the burial must take place even in the absence of such a request (of the parents of the abortive products of conception of a presumed age of less than twenty weeks, editor’s note)”. Their “disposal through the sewage system or ordinary urban waste is a violation of the Mortuary Police Regulations and of Hygiene Regulations”.

This regulation, related to the parents’ or representative’s free choice, was made compulsory in the Lombardia Region by the Amendments to the Cemetery Service Regulation of 30 January 2007, Art. 1.