The Philadelphia medical examiner has refused a request from a coalition of pro-life groups who want to provide a proper burial for the dead babies found in abortionist Kermit Gosnell's clinic.
The medical examiner, Sam Gulino, said that his office does not release deceased bodies to "unrelated third parties," but he assured the groups that the babies would receive a "proper and respectful disposition," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday.
The groups include Alliance Defending Freedom, Christian Defense Coalition, Priests for Life, Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania, Stand True, Students for Life in America and Operation Rescue.
On Sunday, about 60 members of the groups held a prayer vigil outside the examiner's office while holding signs with names for the babies they want released into their care.
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition claimed that Gulino has changed the standards by which his office releases deceased bodies for political reasons.
"The official guidelines and regulations set forth by the medical examiner make it clear," he said in a statement to LifeNews.com, "that any 'interested' party can put in a request asking for any unidentified person to be released into their care. ... It is tragic and barbaric that government officials are playing 'abortion politics' with these innocent babies. These children were brutalized once by Kermit Gosnell. We are now demanding that they are not brutalized again by the City of Philadelphia."
Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania President Michael McMonagle also suggested that government officials do not want to be perceived as advancing a pro-life message by allowing the babies to be buried.
"I think it's clear that city officials don't want to appear they're taking a pro-life side in abortion politics," he said.
Forty-seven babies were found in Gosnell's clinic when he was arrested. He was found guilty of the murder of three babies that he delivered alive and killed as an abortion procedure. He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the death of one mother who died during an abortion procedure. In May, Gosnell accepted a plea deal for life in prison to avoid the death penalty.
Associated Press and some other news organizations continue to refer to the 47 babies as "fetuses," even though, by definition, a baby is only a fetus when she is inside her mother's womb.