- The Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) group said Tuesday it had gotten 115 fetuses from a Washington, D.C., clinic’s medical waste.
- The group asked the driver of the medical waste company if they could take one of the biohazard boxes being loaded into his truck.
- The PAAU wants police to investigate for potential violations of federally illegal late-stage abortions. 23 Republican members of Congress do, too.
Anti-abortion activists say the five fetuses police found inside an activist’s home last month were among a total of 115 fetuses they got from a company disposing of a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic’s medical waste.
The Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) group said Tuesday during a press conference it had contacted the Metropolitan Police Department about giving them the five fetuses for an investigation into federally illegal late-stage abortions.
“We are demanding that the D.C. police conduct a full investigation into the deaths of these babies, including thorough autopsies,” PAAU founder and executive director Terrisa Bukovinac said during the event, which was streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
Bukovinac said she and another activist, Lauren Handy, on March 25,approached a driver for Curtis Bay Medical Waste of Baltimore, Maryland, as boxes labeled as biohazards were being loaded into his truck. When they asked if they could take one of the boxes, the driver agreed and Handy took the box to her apartment, Bukovinac said.
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The group showed video footage of them opening the box and removing several fetuses. Late-stage and third-trimester abortions are legal in the District of Columbia. However, the PAAU group maintains the abortions performed might be a violation of federal law under the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Act.
Curtis Bay Medical Waste disputes the PAAU version of events, saying in a statement, “On March 25, a Curtis Bay employee took custody of three packages from (the clinic) … and delivered all of them to Curtis Bay’s incineration facility. At no time did the Curtis Bay employee hand over any of these packages to the PAAU or other third party, and any allegations made otherwise are false.”
The company also said in its statement that customers such as the clinic “are prohibited from disposing of fetuses and human remains via Curtis Bay’s services. Curtis Bay provides its clients with medical waste bags and boxes to use in a manner that complies with applicable law, client agreements and company policy. Curtis Bay continues to fully cooperate with law enforcement.”
In a Tuesday letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Robert Contee, 23 congressional Republicans demanded “a thorough investigation is conducted into the death of each child,” and asked for a response by the end of the day Wednesday.
The mayor’s office and Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
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Bukovinac said she asked the driver,” Would you be in trouble if we took one of these boxes? And he asked what would you do with them?”
Hardy told him, “we will give them a proper burial and a funeral,” Bukovinac said.
Handy took one of the boxes and 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.”
Bukovinac said the group buried the 110 smaller fetuses and “coordinated with attorneys to alert the D.C. homicide unit on the location of the five larger babies and requested investigations into their deaths.”
Police came to Handy’s home on March 30 in response to a tip about “potential bio-hazard material” at a home in Southeast Washington, they said at the time.
That same day, Handy and eight others were indicted for using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes to block access to a Washington reproductive health center on Oct. 22, 2020. They were charged by the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia with violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
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.”
The D.C. medical examiner’s office and the MPD both declined to comment Tuesday to The Associated Press, with the police saying the case “remains under active investigation.”
Curtis Bay Medical Waste did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY. But in a statement to The Washington Post, the company said an employee on March 25 picked up three packages from the clinic and delivered all of them to the company’s incineration facility. “At no time did the Curtis Bay employee hand over any of these packages to the PAAU or other third party, and any allegations made otherwise are false,” the statement read.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.