A San Antonio woman being arrested on drug charges last week made waves of news when officers searched her purse and found the remains of an eight-week-old fetus. As you might expect, there’s a deeply tragic backstory there: the woman, Bernadette Rivera, told a local news station she had a miscarriage and was unable to find anyone to help her bury the fetus.

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Rivera, 32, was arrested April 28 on drug possession charges; officers said they found the fetus in her bag while conducting a search, but didn’t impose any additional charges on her. She remains in jail on the drug charges, where she told local news station KENS 5 that she simply wanted to bury the remains, but was unable to do so.

Rivera told the station she miscarried outside of a local hospital April 3, but was turned away from there and a second hospital where she sought help. (Neither hospital would confirm that to the station, due to patient privacy laws.) She also sought help from a program called Angels Away at a local Catholic hospital that offers burials after miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and stillbirths, but was told she didn’t qualify because she hadn’t been a patient there either.

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Jail records show that Rivera has several previous arrests on drug charges and has been listed as homeless. Her grandmother told the station she’d previously struggled with depression. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said that in the event the fetus is buried, Rivera will likely not be permitted leave to attend the funeral.


Screenshot via KENS 5/WFAA