The discovery of 2,246 babies’ remains found at deceased abortionist Ulrich Klopfer’s Illinois home was a shocking revelation, but pro-life groups say they’ve long warned that such macabre practices are not uncommon among abortionists.
At a news conference Thursday, Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said the remains recovered from Klopfer’s garage were found individually sealed in plastic bags and stored inside 70 cardboard boxes stacked from the floor to nearly reaching the ceiling.
Each bag, he said, was filled with a preservative called Formalin. The bags were also labeled, but investigators did not reveal what was written on the labels, except to say the dates on them indicate the babies were aborted from 2000 to 2002. Klopfer’s clinics in South Bend, Fort Wayne and Gary, Indiana, were all operating at that time.
Kelley said Klopfer’s relatives have continued to be fully cooperative with investigators, and they still don’t know why he stored the aborted babies in his garage.
He added that 50 detectives and personnel from various agencies searched the house and found no other remains. The aborted babies will soon be transferred to the Indiana Attorney General’s office where the bodies will be held as evidence as the investigation continues.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow confirmed that there was no evidence that Klopfer performed abortions at his home in Crete.
St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter also said that no remains were found when police searched Klopfer’s shuttered clinics in South Bend and Fort Wayne on Thursday.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said earlier this week that he and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul were coordinating on the case and one of their first priorities was to determine whether there were more remains to be found at Klopfer’s properties.
In the 43 years Klopfer worked as an abortionist, he’s said to have performed around 30,000 procedures before his medical license was indefinitely suspended in 2016 by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Trump administration have called for a federal investigation into the deceased abortionist’s practices.
Mike Fitcher, president of Indiana Right to Life, said although Klopfer “cannot be punished because he is deceased,” he wants to know whether former employees were complicit and if the “bodies were being preserved to sell to universities or research facilities,” he told NBC affiliate WNDU at a news conference Monday.
Hill added in an interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream Tuesday night that the Indiana Health Department “was after [Klopfer] for quite some time” for “lack of reporting, lack of cleanliness and lack of keeping adequate staff in the facilities.”
While Klopfer’s medical license was indefinitely suspended in August 2016, he was given the option to petition to reinstate it after February 2017, but only after he underwent education training, logged hours working at an OBGYN practice, and submitted a “plan” approved by the board.
In the attorney general’s complaint against Klopfer, the state cited two instances where he failed to report suspected sexual abuse of two 13-year-old girls in the designated time period mandated by the state. Instead, he waited several months to report the crimes.
Is Klopfer an outlier?
Decades before 2,246 “medically preserved” aborted babies were found at Klopfer’s Illinois home, a similar discovery was made at a house in Woodland Hills, California.
In 1982, the remains of 16,433 aborted babies were found inside a storage container rented by a man who ran a medical laboratory. The bodies were found only after he had stopped making payments and the steel container was repossessed from the man's home.
At the time, pro-life and religious groups seeking to bury the remains were challenged in court by the "Southern California chapter of the civil liberties union, on behalf of the Feminist Women's Health Center," which argued "the fetuses should be cremated, contending they were unwanted biological tissue and not humans," The New York Times reported in August 1985.
The pro-life group Operation Rescue says they believe the pathologist stored the remains in the container to avoid the expense of hiring a medical waste disposal company. After a long legal battle the babies were buried in six adult-sized coffins at a Los Angeles cemetery, the organization said.
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law requiring that the remains of aborted babies be buried or cremated. The legislation was signed into law in 2016 by then-Gov. Mike Pence.
The alarming discovery at Klopfer’s residence has led to many comparisons to former Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell who operated the Women's Medical Society abortion clinic in West Philadelphia for 40 years. The clinic was described as a “House of Horrors” by ex-Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams. The Grand Jury report in Gosnell’s criminal trial said the remains of 45 babies were found “in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, ... It was a baby charnel house.”
In 2013, Planned Parenthood described Gosnell as an outlier. Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, said at the time that his case "just scratches the surface," and cautioned against thinking his clinic was an outlier.
Gosnell is now serving three life sentences without the possibility of parole at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in Huntingdon. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of one patient and three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four babies born alive inside the clinic.
A month before Gosnell was sentenced to prison in May 2013, National Abortion Federation President Vicki Saporta said he was “an extreme outlier” among abortionists, but pro-life groups contend that ample evidence proves otherwise.
“The case of Ulrich Klopfer confirms what we always knew to be true: Kermit Gosnell was the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the abortion industry,” said Lila Rose, founder and president of the pro-life organization Live Action, in a statement to The Christian Post.
Days after Gosnell was found guilty, Texas abortionist Douglas Karpen, who pro-life groups labeled as the “Gosnell of Texas,” was investigated by the Harris County District Attorney's Office after three former employees at his Aaron Women's Clinic in Houston accused him of killing babies who were born alive. A grand jury decided not to indict Karpen, however.
In 2005, the city of Houston Health Department found evidence that workers at Karpen’s clinic were disposing of babies’ remains by flushing body parts down toilets and sink drains, just as Gosnell’s employees had testified to regularly doing at his clinic. The discovery at Karpen’s clinic was made after the owner of an auto shop next door called the city to file a complaint about finding babies' limbs, hands and feet in the sewer lines.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said in May 2018 that it was launching an investigation into allegations that Karpen killed babies born alive by snipping their spines, just as Gosnell had done at his clinic.
Performing abortions on underage girls
During Klopfer’s hearing with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board in August 2016, he recounted his experience of performing an abortion on a 10-year-old girl at a hospital in Chicago, Illinois. The girl was raped by her uncle and the parents refused to press charges against him. Klopfer said he also decided not to report the crime to police.
In his interview with Mark and Amber Archer for the documentary film “Inwood Drive,” the couple recount Klopfer telling them a similar story, the details of which are in a free book that's available on their website. But in the account he told to the Archers, the girl was 12 years old. He went on to say that he later performed abortions on other underage girls, but claimed not to be aware of mandatory reporting laws that required him to contact authorities if he suspected a girl younger than 14 was being sexually abused.
Similar accounts of girls being taken to abortion clinics by their abusers have been documented in criminal cases and undercover investigations by pro-life groups and citizens journalists.
Five years ago, the pro-life group Life Dynamics released a report listing criminal prosecutions against men who were sexually abusing girls as young as 10. In each case, the victim's abuser took her to an abortion clinic that failed to report the crime to authorities.
Also in 2014, the Center for Medical Progress released an undercover video filmed at a Planned Parenthood workshop in Michigan showing an abortion provider arguing that because clinic workers are not state employees, they should not be required to report cases of child abuse to authorities. That video has since been taken down by YouTube.
Two years earlier, a mother in Colorado who found out that her 13-year-old daughter had been taken to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains by her abuser to have an abortion subsequently filed a lawsuit against the clinic. The lawsuit accused the staff of failing to ask the child if she was being sexually abused by an adult, and neglected to contact law enforcement or child protective services to report the suspected abuse.
An undercover investigation carried out by Live Action in 2011 showed Planned Parenthood employees at clinics across multiple states turning a blind eye to claims of statutory rape. One worker even recommended a clinic that she suggested would perform abortions on girls younger than 13 and not report the crime.
Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action, accused the industry of being “full of corruption.” She noted that their investigations and others have uncovered “evidence of widespread atrocities like infanticide, sexual abuse coverup, and trafficking in body parts.”
The film “Inwood Drive”
Husband and wife filmmakers Mark and Amber Archer of Fearless Features interviewed Klopfer in November 2018, eight years after they stood outside his abortion clinic in Fort Wayne to observe what happened on procedure day when pro-life protesters gathered across the street.
In an interview with Mark Mellinger of Christian Talk Radio in August, the Archers described what the scene looked like with Klopfer’s abortion clinic on one side of the street and Statewood Baptist Church on the other, with Inwood Drive in-between.
The couple said that in making the film they were surprised to learn that the leadership at the Baptist church featured in the film and the PCUSA-affiliated First Presbyterian Church that was located across the street from Klopfer’s previous clinic downtown held opposing views on abortion.
Before Klopfer moved his clinic to Inwood Drive, it was located across from the First Presbyterian Church where its then pastor volunteered as a clinic escort. A sidewalk counselor interviewed for the film recounted that “members of the clergy from First Presbyterian [were] working for the abortion clinic,” Mark Archer said.
“I think the biggest mistake George Klopfer made was moving his clinic across the street from a Gospel preaching, fundamentally sound church, Statewood Baptist,” he added.
Mark Archer details their interview with Klopfer in the book Interview with the Abortionist that’s free on their website. In it, they include Klopfer’s account of surviving the three days of British and American forces' firebombing attacks on Dresden, Germany, in February 1945. Archer said it had become a rumor that Klopfer was performing abortions as retribution for what his family suffered during World War II.
The filmmakers described Klopfer as a sad and lost man who argued that he never killed babies because inside the womb it’s not a baby, it's a fetus.
Another part of the film focuses on Allen County’s Patient Safety Ordinance that requires itinerant physicians, including abortionists, to have backup physicians. The ordinance started, Archer said, after Dr. Geoff Cly, an OBGYN in Allen County, saw an increasing number of women were showing up at emergency rooms suffering from complications following botched abortions.
Cly later found out that the women had abortions performed by Klopfer in Allen County, Archer said. One of the first women he saw “was a 20-year-old girl who had so many complications from a botched abortion she had to have a hysterectomy and could never have children after that,” he added.
“It was all started by Cly who, out of his frustration with trying to protect patients, reached out to Cathie Humbarger with Allen Country Right to Life and they started making the original presentation of what became the Patient Safety Ordinance,” Archer told Christian Talk Radio.
The day Archer found out about the 2,246 bodies found at Klopfer’s Illinois home, he posted a message on the film’s page, saying he was “Shocked but not surprised.”
While the film was completed in July, the Archers are now updating it and plan to release it in 2020.
Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Nearly a week passed before South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg responded to requests for comment on the aborted babies’ remains found at Klopfer’s home. The late abortionist operated three abortion clinics in Indiana, one if which was located in South Bend.
On Wednesday, Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate, said: “Like everyone, I find the news out of Illinois extremely disturbing, and I think it’s important that it be fully investigated. I also hope it doesn’t get caught up in politics at a time when women need access to healthcare. There’s no question that what happened is disturbing. It’s unacceptable. And it needs to be looked into fully.”
In a comment to CP, Rose, the founder of Live Action, accused Buttigieg, who was first elected mayor of South Bend in 2011, of having “protected” Klopfer and his Women's Pavilion abortion clinic.
Earlier this month, Buttigieg addressed the issue of abortion in an interview on “The Breakfast Club” morning radio show where he said he believes life begins at birth, and suggested that his views are in agreement with the Bible.
“Now, right now, [Republicans] hold everybody in line with this one piece of doctrine about abortion, right, which is obviously a tough issue for a lot of people to think through morally. Then again, there’s a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath, and so even that is something that we can interpret differently,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg’s staunch support of abortion rights has been heavily criticized by pro-life groups since he vetoed a zoning request by the pro-life Women’s Care Center that wanted to open next door to the Whole Woman’s Health abortion clinic that’s currently operating under a provisional license. Initially, Klopfer’s former employee, Liam Morley, was listed as the clinic’s administrator, but on Monday a spokeswoman from Whole Woman’s Health told The Washington Free Beacon that Morley “was no longer connected to the clinic.”
Chris Meagher, national press secretary for Buttigieg, told the Chicago Tribune in August that “The South Bend clinic would be the only one for a radius of several counties. It is a restriction on a woman’s right if she is low-income, or doesn’t have a vehicle, and she has to visit multiple times, but the clinic is dozens of miles away.”
Whole Women’s Health of South Bend is 97.5 miles from Fort Wayne, which is now considered an “abortion desert.” That means there are no abortion clinics within a 100 miles of the city.
Follow Melissa Barnhart on Twitter: @MelBarnhart