Politics & Policy

These Are Human Beings

Sign at the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., in 2011. (Jason Reed/Reuters)
The thousands of aborted fetuses found on the property of abortionist Ulrich Klopfer force us to admit reality.

Abortion intentionally ends the lives of human beings. We were reminded of this in a particularly grisly way over the weekend, when 2,246 remains of aborted fetuses were discovered inside the home of former abortionist Ulrich George Klopfer. His family discovered the medically preserved remains on Klopfer’s property in Illinois after he passed away earlier this month.

He performed abortions for nearly four decades in northern Indiana — primarily in South Bend but also in Fort Wayne and Gary — and had his medical license indefinitely suspended in 2016 after having violated laws governing abortion reporting, proper record-keeping, and safety standards during abortion procedures.

When the Women’s Pavilion abortion clinic where Klopfer worked in South Bend shut down in the spring of 2016, he was scheduled to appear before the Indiana Medical Licensing Board as part of the state attorney general’s investigation of more than 2,000 complaints about his practices.

The licensing board found that, among other violations, Klopfer had performed abortions on two 13-year-old girls and waited several months to report both procedures, rather than doing so within the legally required three-day window. He also admitted to having performed an abortion on a ten-year-old girl who had been raped by her uncle; he never reported this to any law-enforcement agency.

So the fact that Klopfer preserved parts from more than 2,000 tiny bodies as ghastly trophies of his time as an abortionist might not come as a big surprise to those familiar with his work.

But it ought to shock the conscience of a nation that legally sanctions nearly a million abortion procedures every year. It’s easy enough to ignore when the remains are disposed of behind clinics and taken to landfills, and we never have to see them. They aren’t supposed to appear again, closeted away in the houses of abortionists only to emerge in our newsfeeds or on our television screens.

The killing can continue as long as we don’t have to pay attention. But sometimes we don’t have a choice.

In his book Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery, former surgeon Richard Selzer includes a chapter about abortion. He describes a summer morning in his neighborhood, when a city garbage truck mistakenly dropped a bag of fetal remains on the road, and he and his neighbors left their homes only to tread accidentally on the little body parts.

“You bend to see. Because you must,” Selzer writes. “And it is no joke. Such a gray softness can be but one thing. It is a baby, and dead. You cover your mouth, your eyes. You are fixed. Horror has found its chink and crawled in, and you will never be the same as you were.”

Selzer goes on:

Later, at the police station, the investigation is brisk, conclusive. It is the hospital director speaking: “. . . fetuses accidentally got mixed up with the hospital rubbish . . . were picked up at approximately eight fifteen a.m. by a sanitation truck. Somehow, the plastic lab bag, labeled hazardous material, fell off the back of the truck and broke open. No, it is not known how the fetuses got in the orange plastic bag labeled hazardous material. It is a freak accident.” The hospital director wants you to know that it is not an everyday occurrence. Once in a lifetime, he says. But you have seen it, and what are his words to you now?

He grows affable, familiar, tells you that, by mistake, the fetuses got mixed up with the other debris. (Yes, he says other; he says debris.) He has spent the entire day, he says, trying to figure out how it happened. He wants you to know that. Somehow it matters to him. He goes on:

Aborted fetuses that weigh one pound or less are incinerated. Those weighing over one pound are buried at the city cemetery. He says this. Now you see. It is orderly. It is sensible. The world is not mad. This is still a civilized society. . . .

But just this once, you know it isn’t. You saw, and you know.

Klopfer’s neighbors did not have to tread on his victims in the street, but in his careless collection of these remains, he has forced us to look with horror at what abortion does to the fetus, to admit to ourselves that he or she is but a tiny child. The truth has slipped in: Abortion is a violent act, the taking of a human life.

And having the truth plastered on the front page of the local paper is bad for business. South Bend’s newly minted abortion clinic offered a statement over the weekend, expressing shock at the news and reading in part: “Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend is proud to serve the community with high-quality abortion care services that respect the dignity of women and families. We adhere to the highest healthcare standards and we treat our patients with compassion and respect when they need it most.”

If all that health-care standards and compassion require is not to transport home the remains of aborted fetuses at the end of the workday, perhaps the Whole Woman’s Health abortionist can manage it. But there is little distinction between what happens in that clinic and what happened at Klopfer’s, between what their abortionist will do to those tiny bodies and what Klopfer did to the 2,246 found in his home.

If his family had uncovered thousands or hundreds or even dozens of body parts from human adults, we’d witness wall-to-wall news coverage of the most notorious serial killer in history — and rightly so. Instead, because they are small and we are not, we will close our eyes. In a few days, most of us will forget. We will tell ourselves that Klopfer was a criminal and the rest are not, that abortion is sterile and sanitary while these were not, that the unborn don’t have bodies if we don’t have to look at them.

But we saw, and we know.

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