WASHINGTON (AP) — An anti-abortion group said Tuesday that the five fetuses found last week in a member's home came from the medical waste being disposed by a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic.
The group, known as the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, claimed it contacted the police to collect the fetuses in hopes that an autopsy would prove that the clinic was conducting federally illegal late-stage abortions.
The claims during a Tuesday press conference shed light on a case that first came to public attention last week, when the Metropolitan Police Department removed five aborted fetuses from the home of Lauren Handy, a longtime anti-abortion rights activist. Police removed the fetuses one day after Handy and eight others were charged with blocking access to an abortion clinic in 2020.
Handy told reporters Tuesday that she and another group member approached a driver who was loading sealed boxes of medical waste from the Washington Surgi-Clinic into his truck. They persuaded the driver to let them take one of the waist-high boxes. Inside, they said, they found more than 100 fetuses from early-stage abortions, and five fetuses from what they claim are late-stage abortions that violate federal law.
The group showed several minutes of gruesome footage, with them opening the box and removing several fetuses with well-developed limbs and facial features. Late-stage and third-trimester abortions are legal in the District of Columbia. The group maintains they might be a violation of federal law under the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Act.
"We are demanding that the D.C. police conduct an investigation of the deaths of these babies, including a thorough autopsy," said Terrisa Bukovinac, PAAU's executive director.
The D.C. medical examiner's office has, so far, declined to perform any autopsies on the fetuses. Ashan Benedict, MPD's executive assistant chief of police, told reporters last week that the fetuses appeared to have been aborted "in accordance with D.C. law."
Handy said she kept the fetuses "under my stewardship" in her home while she and Bukovinac tried to find an independent pathologist to perform an autopsy. But Bukovinac said that proved difficult because the doctors they contacted were "unwilling to get involved."
Finally they called the MPD to retrieve the fetuses. During the two-day span while they were waiting, federal charges against Handy and eight other people were handed down for blockading the entrance to a clinic that performs abortions.
The D.C. medical examiner's office and the MPD both declined to comment Tuesday, with the police saying the case "remains under active investigation."
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