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DOJ advised DC medical examiner to dispose of aborted baby bodies, lawyer says Justice.Gov

DOJ advised DC medical examiner to dispose of aborted baby bodies, lawyer says

(The Daily Signal) The Department of Justice reportedly advised the Washington, D.C. Medical Examiner to discard the remains of aborted preemie-sized babies, according to an attorney with the Thomas More Society.

Those baby remains are from an abortion clinic in Foggy Bottom, a neighborhood of D.C. Pro-life activists believe the baby bodies are evidence that a D.C. abortionist was performing illegal abortions, but for two years now, D.C. authorities have stonewalled any questions about the babies’ deaths.

“Just today, I got a call from the medical examiner’s office indicating that the DOJ has advised them that there is no reason to keep those babies anymore,” attorney Martin Cannon, who is representing pro-life activists charged by the DOJ, told The Daily Signal on a phone call late Monday evening. “And the medical examiner’s office accordingly tells me that if we don’t have an order to the contrary, by the end of this week, a court order, they will dispose of the babies.”

The DOJ and the D.C. Medical Examiner did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.

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Cannon said that he received a call from the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office on Monday related to the case of Lauren Handy, one of the pro-life activists he is representing. Handy is a pro-life activist charged by the DOJ with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when she sought to prevent the abortions of unborn babies by blocking women from accessing a D.C. abortion clinic in 2020.

A federal jury found Handy and four other pro-life activists guilty in August, and Handy is currently awaiting sentencing in an Alexandria, Virginia jail.

Cannon, who was in D.C. on Monday visiting Handy and her fellow pro-life activists, had been in communication with a forensic pathologist who was considering examining the babies ahead of the activists’ trial.

“I had the agreement of the medical examiner to accommodate that,” Cannon said of the forensic pathologist’s examination. But shortly before Handy’s trial, he said, the pathologist became unable to do the examination.

“The condition of those babies and the circumstances under which they died is still relevant to the case,” he pointed out. “It’s pertinent to sentencing. And I’ve been making some efforts lately to find another pathologist and see what we can do. And, of course, I have advised the medical examiner’s office of that.”

In light of the medical examiner’s call, he questioned why the medical examiner’s office would take “such stark marching orders from the DOJ.”

“If I understand the structure of things correctly, there’s no real reason the DOJ should have such sway over the examiner’s office,” he said. “Beyond Lauren’s case, there is a general need to have these babies examined. There is literally exactly a 50% chance that two of these babies … there’s a 50% chance that each of them was born alive and left to die… There’s some chance that the others were subject to illegal partial birth abortions.”

“The DOJ knows this,” Cannon said. “Those are federal crimes.”

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The attorney warned that in order for the baby bodies to be preserved, lawmakers on Capitol Hill that have the authority to investigate the matter “ought to do it immediately” and issue a letter to the medical examiner’s office stating that there is going to be an investigation and ordering the medical examiner not to dispose of the babies.

“I think that would solve the problem,” he said. “And then, of course, we get an investigation.”

In March 2022, the DOJ charged Handy and eight others with “conspiracy against rights and a [Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances] Act offense.”

Handy has said that she was motivated to stop abortions from occurring inside Washington Surgi-Clinic after she viewed an undercover video published by the pro-life group Live Action that allegedly showed abortionist Cesare Santangelo discussing how he would allow babies to die if they were accidentally delivered during abortions.

In March 2022, Handy and her colleague Terrisa Bukovinac discovered the bodies of five preemie-sized aborted babies’ bodies in a box of fetal remains outside the Foggy Bottom-based abortion facility. That box also contained over a hundred pulverized remains of first-trimester babies, they said.

The District does not have any laws that regulate how late during pregnancy a baby can be aborted. So when the babies’ bodies were originally brought to light, D.C. police shrugged off the matter. 

Ashan Benedict, the Metropolitan Police Department’s executive assistant chief of police, went so far as to tell reporters in April 2022 that the babies appeared to have been aborted “in accordance with D.C. law.” 

Police have repeatedly told The Daily Signal since then that the case is still “under investigation.” Authorities will not share whether autopsies have been performed on the babies’ remains. The MPD confirmed in early August that the investigation is still open.

The mayor’s office has completely stonewalled questions about the babies. Even the office of the chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia directs queries to the mayor’s office—specifically, to Dora Taylor-Lowe, who refuses to answer The Daily Signal’s requests for comment. 

It remains unclear whether autopsies have been performed on the bodies of the five babies, whose bodies were photographed by Bukovinac. (Warning: These images are graphic and disturbing.)

And though D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser refused to address the possibility that Santangelo was criminally aborting late-term babies in the nation’s capital, she did accuse Handy of “tampering with fetal remains” in an April 2022 letter to Republican lawmakers highlighting that Handy herself faced FACE Act charges for blocking the entrance to a D.C. abortion clinic in October 2020.

Handy’s involvement in the discovery of the babies, as well as her participation in the October 2020 “blockade,” according to Bowser, are potentially “serious violations of federal law.”

Editor's note: This article was published by The Daily Signal and is reprinted with permission. 

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