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The Real Cost of Non-Standardized
Fetal Disposition Laws
Therese M. Hessler | 25 September 2019
Earlier this month, a horrific discovery of 2,246 fetal remains in abortionist Dr. Klopfer’s Illinois home[i] briefly brought the nation’s attention to the topic of abortion once again.
Dr. Klopfer, who died Sept. 3, was a longtime doctor at an abortion clinic in South Bend, Indiana. It closed after the state revoked his license in 2015 after the Department of Health had issued complaints against the clinic, accusing it of lacking a registry of patients and policies regarding medical abortion.[ii] While the specific details regarding Dr. Klopfer’s case have still not been released, the story and controversy around fetal disposition laws is far from unique.
According to a leading abortion research group, the Guttmacher Institute, an estimated 862,320 abortions were provided in clinical settings in the United States in 2017,[iii] the year of their latest report. Based on their estimate, abortion facilities have a need to dispose of approximately 2,363 baby bodies every day. Disposing of the remains of an aborted baby, through a variety of methods, is referred to as “fetal disposition.”
Violations and problems with fetal disposition laws have been discovered in numerous states, including Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Examples of documented violations of state law by abortion facilities or waste disposal companies regarding fetal disposition include: failure to disinfect containers and sending body parts down the sanitary sewer; disposal of fetal remains in a municipal solid waste landfill; and storage in a refrigerator.[iv]
Some states such as Indiana are open to a variety of disposal means based on current law,[v] and these states can attract waste companies that cross state lines to dump baby parts for abortion clinics in neighboring jurisdictions. This might be part of why Dr. Klopfer had the fetal remains at his home in Illinois, even though he practiced abortion in nearby Indiana. When money is the driving factor for the abortion industry, one can speculate that disposal costs may be at play in many similar cases and violations in other states as well.
The 1982 discovery of over 16,000 aborted fetuses being improperly stored at Malvin Weisberg's Woodland Hills, California, home brought the first national spotlight on fetal disposition. Weisburg, was the owner of Medical Analytic Laboratories, a research facility in Santa Monica. In 1980, he ordered a 20ft shipping container to be delivered to his mansion in Woodland Hills. Later in 1982, a full year after the man had ceased operating the research facility, the container was repossessed and opened, leading to the gruesome discovery of aborted fetuses. Weisberg claims he had not disposed of them due to financial difficulties.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine was shocked to discover what was happening to babies aborted by Planned Parenthood in his state. They ended up crossing state lines to, eventually, be dumped at a landfill in Kentucky. This led to legislation being introduced in the Ohio Senate this past March; which if passed will require remains from elective abortions, normally performed at abortion clinics, be buried or cremated. Women who have the procedure would be required to determine the method of disposal. This legislation is currently waiting for a vote in the House after passing through the Senate, 24-9.[vi] Michigan law finds a similar flaw as it allows the fetal disposition to be arranged by the doctor who performed the abortion.[vii]
In Texas, two Whole Woman’s Health clinics and a company specializing in fetal disposition were fined in 2011 for violations relating to the disposal of fetal remains. The company’s $42,000 fine came because the state’s law does not allow “recognizable human body parts…fetuses…and the products of human abortions” to be “disposed of in a municipal solid waste landfill,” and yet the remains of aborted babies were being dumped in multiple landfills.[viii] Many states now mandate fetal disposition by cremation or burial by a certain gestational age.[ix]
However, even with cremation and burial mandates, states still fail to address the larger issues – the number of abortions in their state and the money being made from them. Abortion provider giant Planned Parenthood’s fetal disposition company, Stericycle also monopolizes the market, serving all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and 21 other countries worldwide. Both companies net billions of dollars each year.[x]
Therese M. Hessler, Associate Director of Maryland Catholic Conference