New statutory instruments
Two decrees (completed with two orders) enabling registering the lifeless foetus with the registry of birth and the family record book and organising funerals (the foetus under 22 weeks were often incinerated with the operating room waste) were published to the Official Journal of 22nd August 20081.
The judgements of the Court of Cassation
In the three judgements of 6th February 2008 (Gènéthique No 99), the Court of Cassation had already pronounced that a child dead in utero before achieving the viability threshold could give rise to the establishment of a record of lifeless child.
Nevertheless, some questions are still pending: In particular the threshold of development under which the registration to the civil status could not be possible and the solution to accept in the case of voluntary terminations of pregnancy. The texts of 22nd August are a compromise solution.
The certificate of birth
The decree No 2008-800 foresees that the record of a lifeless child is established by the officer of civil status delivering a medical certificate specifying the hour, day and place of delivery and you have to refer to the appendix of the order which foresees the establishment conditions to understand the foreseen system. Indeed, the appendix specifies that only the deliveries spontaneous or caused for medical reason, including the medical terminations of pregnancy, create a possibility of a certificate of birth. Then it is specified that the early pregnancy terminations, the early spontaneous abortions and the voluntary terminations of pregnancy do not give right to the delivery of a certificate of birth.
A 12-week threshold
This way, it seems that it is established a 12-week threshold of amenorrhea, corresponding to the deadline beyond which the pregnancy will not be terminated without medical reason (French Public Heath Code, art. L.2212-1 and followings). Regarding the early spontaneous abortions, we consider that they are those which occur during the first quarter of the pregnancy. After this time, the texts do not distinguish whether the termination is spontaneous or voluntary. P. Gosselin, UMP deputy and co-writer of decrees explains: ”we have introduced in the text the notion of delivery, established by medical certificate, as a condition necessary to the delivery of a ”record of lifeless child”. But the VTOP is not a delivery, and thus nothing is questioned”.
1- Decrees No 2008-798 and 2008-800 and judgments of 20th August 2008, OJ, 22thAugust.