Brutalized Babies, ‘Criminal’ Pro-Lifers, and Morally Compromised Law Enforcement

Recently, two pro-life women touched off a storm of reaction when they revealed that they had recovered the bodies of late-term aborted babies from the trash of a Washington, D.C. abortionist.

Mainstream media spun it as a story about a ghoulish anti-abortion activist collecting and storing “fetal remains” –for what morbid purposes, the public was welcome to speculate.

It has turned out instead to be another gruesome, Kermit Gosnell-type abortion atrocity.

But that is not even the whole story. Another aspect involves public authorities–from the D.C. police and medical examiner, to the highly politicized FBI–targeting the pro-life activists while refusing to even investigate the abortionist’s evident violations of federal law.

Pro-life activists Lauren Handy and Terrisa Bukovinac, in an interview on the Catholic site Pillar, give their description of events. 

They and their organization, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), have been focusing on abortionist Cesare Santangelo’s Washington Surgi-Clinic, because they believe that, like Gosnell, he has been performing illegal, late-term partial-birth abortions and allowing babies to die without treatment after being born alive following failed abortions.

In fact, in undercover video from Lila Rose’s Live Action group, Santangelo repeatedly reassures a prospective “client” that if her baby is born alive, his clinic will make no effort to sustain its life–in clear violation of the federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

The women tell Pillar they persuaded a waste disposal truck driver picking up boxes from Washington Surgi-Clinic to let them take one of the boxes. Getting a deacon to come to Handy’s apartment, they opened the box and discovered, they say, the remains of 110 tiny infants, but also five much larger, fully formed babies. (Live Action provides graphic photos of these brutalized children, if you have the stomach for it click here.)

They named the babies, arranged for a funeral Mass for all of them and burial of the 110 smaller ones, but wanted a pathologist to examine the older children, to determine if they had been killed illegally.

Unable to get a private pathologist, they had a lawyer contact the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office, asking that D.C. Homicide investigate, and retrieve the bodies for the purpose of autopsies.

They were told the bodies would be picked up that night, but that did not happen.

Instead, the very next morning, Lauren Handy and eight others–including my brother here in New York–were rounded up by the FBI on charges involving a sit-in two years ago at Washington Surgi-Clinic. While Handy was thus in custody–and unable to give her side of the story about the dead babies–D.C. police showed up in force to retrieve the bodies, attracting media and enabling the false narrative of ghoulish pro-life fetus collectors to be spun unchallenged.

Does this seem like coincidence? Hardly.

My brother explained to me that when he, Handy, and seven others sat in at Santangelo’s abortion mill two years ago, in an effort to rescue babies from imminent death, they were arrested by local authorities and charged accordingly. FBI agents questioned them at the time, but no federal charges were forthcoming.

That all changed when Handy notified authorities about the evidence she had now found–in the form of fully developed babies thrown in the trash–implicating Santangelo in possible criminal violations of federal law.

Rather than investigate those possible federal crimes, the FBI suddenly leaped into action to add federal charges to the two-year-old case against the pro-lifers–now charging them with violations of the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances), the 1994 law designed to equate peaceful pro-life civil disobedience with acts of violence, in order to impose harsher sentences on peaceful, prayerful pro-life rescuers.

While helping local authorities downplay evidence of an abortionist’s brutal crimes against innocent children (the D.C. police and medical examiner quickly dismissed any need for autopsies or criminal investigation) the Feds treat a peaceful, prayerful pro-life sit-in, from two years ago, as though it is the crime of the century–my brother tells me FBI agents were poised with a battering ram, ready to smash their way into his house when he answered his door, and Bukovinac told Pillar agents reportedly had guns drawn when they entered the homes of some of the other rescuers.  

This is the same politicized FBI that is under intense scrutiny by Special Counsel John Durham for its involvement in what proved to be the hoax of Russia-Trump collusion; the same FBI whose attempt to entrap defendants with its own contrived kidnapping plot of Michigan’s governor has now fallen apart in court.

Regardless of one’s political leanings, we should all be profoundly disturbed when an agency with the sweeping national police powers of the FBI abuses those powers in service to a partisan political agenda–looking the other way when federal laws are broken by those it sympathizes with, while weaponizing such laws, and even suborning criminal behavior, to persecute those whose views it doesn’t like.   

There are two levels of scandal here.

There is the Gosnell-like brutality, and possible criminality, of Santangelo’s late-term abortion business.

And there is the refusal of authorities, local and federal, to investigate that alleged criminality–topped off by the FBI instead targeting the peaceful pro-life protesters who brought Santangelo’s possible crimes to light.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

2 thoughts on “Brutalized Babies, ‘Criminal’ Pro-Lifers, and Morally Compromised Law Enforcement

  1. Rick, this is so disturbing that I’ve taken a few days to let it settle within me. Trouble is, it remains unsettling. Not only for the two levels you point out, the Gosnel-like horror and the corrupt FBI, but also for my inability to absorb the fact that there are activists like Lauren Handy and Terissa Bukovinac dedicating their lives to save lives. They are willing to endure long prison terms to do so.

    Lauren says in the interview that there are people (like me) who go and pray at abortion clinics and although prayer is certainly good, in these situations of life and death prayer seems to fall far short. Lauren asks, if someone is drowning would you pray for them or do something to help save them?


    1. Thank you, Walter. I’ve thought about this for years, as I agree with the logic expressed by Lauren Handy (and my brother, among others), even as I have felt called to a different approach in trying to protect the unborn. And I do believe, in an injustice as widespread as this one, with an opposition so powerful, wealthy and influential–and ubiquitous in every segment of our culture, from politics and government (at every level), to media, academia, entertainment, even many churches–that we are all called differently, to act in different ways and within different spheres of influence, to try to change that culture and secure long-term respect and protection for all human life, beginning with the most vulnerable, the unborn. We all must also weigh how our involvement impacts with other responsibilities God has entrusted to us, and guide our involvements accordingly. Thus, while I did submit to arrest one time during the Operation Rescue days of the late 1980s–as one who fully supported that effort in principle, I felt I should act on that principle in a show of solidarity with the rescuers–I felt that God was calling me differently at that point, after years of volunteer activism, to find ways in which my career pursuits could help to serve the pro-life cause. And He has guided me in that approach ever since, through a multi-faceted career that has afforded me numerous platforms from which to proclaim and defend the sanctity of life. That said, I have nothing but the utmost respect and gratitude for those who, without regard to the suffering and persecution they are so often subjected to–even alas, by some pro-lifers, including some within our own Church–commit themselves to nonviolent direct action to try to save innocent lives.


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