America today seems like a divided land.
Need evidence? Just try discussing — in mixed company — the issue of what legal status rightfully belongs to unborn children.
Some see abortion as the “taking of innocent life.” Others see it as a matter of “reproductive rights.” Agreement between the pro-life and pro-abortion camps — on anything, it seems — is frustratingly elusive.
Sometimes, though, you find some common ground when you least expect it.
Last month, family members of Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, a recently deceased abortion doctor, made a gruesome discovery. While going through Klopfer’s belongings at his Illinois home, relatives found the preserved remains of 2,246 aborted fetuses.
The tiny bodies were stashed in boxes stored in the late doctor’s garage. Accompanying the remains were corresponding medical records.
Then, this month, authorities found another 165 fetuses in the trunk of a car that belonged to Klopfer, all preserved in similar fashion as those found earlier in the garage. That brought the total number of discovered fetuses to 2,411.
Investigators concluded that all the fetal remains came from abortions performed by Klopfer at three Indiana clinics from the years 2000 to 2002.
In 2016, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette described Klopfer as “likely Indiana’s most prolific abortion doctor in history with numbers going into the tens of thousands of procedures in multiple counties over several decades.” Klopfer’s medical license was suspended indefinitely in 2016 because of his failure to comply with multiple regulations governing the practice of medicine.
Once Illinois authorities learned the fetuses were from Indiana, they turned over information and evidence to my office. As we continue to investigate this matter, we are working to ensure that these unborn children receive proper final arrangements back home in Indiana, with respect and dignity, in ways allowed by Indiana law.
The disturbing chain of events surrounding Klopfer’s hoarding of fetal remains certainly demonstrates the need for state laws regulating the final disposition of aborted fetuses. The Indiana General Assembly passed such a law in 2016. It required that medical facilities either bury or cremate fetal remains following abortions. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that law.
But back to my original point.
In the days since that awful discovery in Illinois, I have spoken about this ordeal with people on both sides of the abortion debate. Interestingly, reactions among these normally disparate groups are strikingly similar.
This leads to an obvious question. If pro-abortion individuals are truly convinced that human fetuses are simply clumps of cells, why have they been nearly as appalled by the discovery of these fetal remains as pro-life folks?
With few exceptions, I believe we all at some level recognize the basic humanity of unborn children. And I believe we recognize the basic inhumanity of treating them as mere medical waste.
At the same time, I believe we all feel deep sympathy for women who have reached such desperation as to resort to abortion as a means of escaping an unwanted pregnancy.
No matter your beliefs about abortion, your heart must go out to women with direct connections to these fetuses left in boxes at the doctor’s home or in the trunk of a vehicle. Some of these women, seeing the recent news stories, are now perhaps reliving the most painful moments of their lives. Some are wondering whether their own offspring could be among these preserved fetuses.
To this end, my office has established a phone number and email address for women who decide they want to know. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the phone number is 317-234-6663. The abortions were performed in the cities of Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend.
As my office works through this current investigation, I am reminded of the larger issues before us. How can we create a greater consensus in this nation that the lives of the unborn are worthy of protection and respect?
Writer Sarah Quinlan recently offered this perspective: “No law is going to eradicate the demand for — or existence of — abortion entirely in the United States. It is therefore not enough to change the laws. The pro-life movement must focus on changing the culture. It simply is not possible to eliminate abortion by legislating it away. But we can reduce the number of abortions by providing sufficient resources and support . . . for women and families. And we can stop seeing the fight over abortion as ‘us versus them’ and instead frame it as ‘us helping them.’ ”
Although I believe we must simultaneously continue to pass legislation that advocates for life wherever possible, Quinlan is absolutely correct that we need to do more than legislate for life.
Throughout America, we must focus on creating a caring and compassionate culture of life.
We must be a nation that celebrates and supports motherhood and fatherhood; a place where communities unite to maintain healthy environments for the rearing of children; and a society in which a young, poor and unwed woman can have confidence she will find needed help throughout an unplanned pregnancy and the rearing of a child.
Such a society, surely, is one to be desired by all Americans, both pro-life and pro-abortion.