[John Hirschauer is assistant editor of The American Conservative, where the following article was originally published on April 13, 2022. Reprinted with permission.]
But after a long time, Salmanasar the king being dead, when Sennacherib his son, who reigned in his place, had a hatred for the children of Israel: Tobias daily went among all his kindred, and comforted them, and distributed to every one as he was able, out of his goods: He fed the hungry, and gave clothes to the naked, and was careful to bury the dead, and they that were slain.
And when king Sennacherib was come back, fleeing from Judea by reason of the slaughter that God had made about him for his blasphemy, and being angry slew many of the children of Israel, Tobias buried their bodies. (Tobias 1:18-21)
The disfigured corpses of more than 100 aborted children were recovered in Washington, D.C. late last month by a pro-life activist named Lauren Handy. They were reportedly found in a box on a medical-waste truck on their way to be incinerated. In an act of perfect moral inversion, the only person facing prosecution in connection with the children’s deaths is the woman who discovered their remains.
Handy claims to have found the remains of 115 unborn children in a medical waste container in a truck departing from Washington Surgi-Clinic, an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C., late last month. She says five of the recovered children were aborted post-viability. Photos of the five viable children’s remains were leaked to the anti-abortion group Live Action.
The first child pictured in the report is called “Baby Boy #1.” He is fully formed, roughly the size of a healthy newborn. One of the neonatologists quoted by Live Action estimates his gestational age at 32 weeks. The child’s limbs are discolored, jaundiced from decay. His head is shriveled like a prune and stomach distended. His mouth is frozen agape and eyes swollen shut. The skin on his left leg is peeling. The second child, “Baby Girl #1,” is curled in the fetal position. Her face is misshapen, and her head is stuck to her chest. There are deep lacerations on the back of her neck. She has all ten of her toes—they’re pinkish, and at a glance could be mistaken for the feet of a live newborn.
“Baby Girl #2” is pictured third. All that remains of her little body are severed limbs and a portion of her spine. A neonatologist interviewed by Live Action believes the child was decapitated during a “dilation and extraction” abortion.
The last child pictured is blue from apparent oxygen deprivation. The baby’s sex is unknown.
Handy allegedly came to possess the remains after confronting an employee of Curtis Bay Waste Management, who was loading what he supposed to be medical waste from Washington Surgi-Clinic to the back of his truck to be disposed of at the company’s industrial-grade incinerator. In her telling, she asked the employee if he knew what was in the boxes. He did not. Handy told him she believed the boxes contained the remains of aborted children, which shocked the employee. She asked if she could take one of the boxes from the truck.
“Would you get in trouble if we took one of these boxes?” she asked.
The employee reportedly asked what she would do with the box if he allowed her to take it.
“We would give them a proper burial and a funeral,” she said, at which point, Handy claims, he gave her the box.
The company denies having given Handy the box and says it does not incinerate fetal remains. Handy posted a photo of the box with a label from Curtis Bay Waste Management.
Then, Handy claims she and a friend opened the box and were aghast at what they saw—the remains of 110 “pre-viable” and five “post-viable” children, the latter she believed to have been killed illegally.
Handy then did what she told the employee she would do—she buried the children. She contacted a priest, who performed a Catholic rite of burial for the 110 pre-viable children at an undisclosed cemetery.
Given the graphic deaths of the five late-term babies in the box, Handy supposed they could have been victims not only of an unthinkable moral crime, as had the other 110, but a crime recognized even by the civil authority. She reported the deaths of the five post-viability infants to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Homicide Unit, which came to Handy’s house to investigate.
Police confirmed that the remains of the 115 children in Handy’s possession were, in fact, aborted children, and claimed—in a statement that should forever discredit the moral authority of the District of Columbia—that each of the children was aborted in a manner consistent with D.C. law. The remains of the five children will not be autopsied.
“Those fetuses were aborted in accordance with D.C. law, so we are not investigating this incident along those lines,” Executive Assistant Chief Ashan Benedict of the Metropolitan Police Department told reporters. “There doesn’t seem to be anything criminal in nature about that now except for how they got into this house.” The man who allegedly performed the abortions at Washington Surgi-Clinic apparently will not be charged. Dr. Cesare Santangelo, the abortionist at the D.C. clinic, admitted to an undercover reporter in 2012 that he has allowed babies born alive during the abortion procedure to die.
“Obviously you’re here for a certain procedure,” he told the reporter, who was 24-weeks pregnant at the time. “And if your pregnancy were—let’s say you went into labor, the membranes ruptured, and you delivered before we got to the termination part of the procedure here, you know. Then we would do things—we would—we would not help [the child].”
While Santangelo will not be charged, Handy was indicted that same day for earlier anti-abortion activism. On March 30, the Department of Justice announced it was charging Handy in connection with an alleged incident outside of an abortion clinic in 2020, in which Handy is alleged to have, with others, “forcefully entered the clinic and set about blockading two clinic doors using their bodies, furniture, chains and ropes.”
Handy has not yet been charged in connection with her handling of the children’s remains. D.C. police are still investigating her acquisition and storage of the corpses. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, in a letter to Senate Republicans, accused Handy of “tampering with fetal remains.”
The act of burying a fetus is offensive to even some Catholics, Christians, and nominal pro-life activists. Handy’s actions feel “extreme.” After all, the children are already dead—why not let them be incinerated alongside blood and bodily fluid? The country is already polarized—don’t these tactics make compromise harder? Perhaps. But there is no reasonable compromise to be had. There is no half-way position between allowing hundreds of thousands of unborn children to be killed and preventing those children’s deaths. The “correct” number of abortions is not 300,000. It is zero. And until it is zero, every child sacrificed on the altar of liberation should be given a burial at the state’s expense. Beneath the slogans and weasel words of the abortion debate—”reproductive health,” “bodily autonomy,” “women’s healthcare”—is a human person. Burial is an affirmation of that most uncomfortable fact.
And when he had gone, returning he told him, that one of the children of Israel lay slain in the street. And he forthwith leaped up from his place at the table, and he left his dinner, and came fasting to the body, and taking it up carried it privately to his house, that after the sun was down, he might bury him cautiously. And when he had hid the body, he ate bread with mourning and fear, remembering the word which the Lord spoke by Amos the prophet: Your festival days shall be turned into lamentation and mourning. So when the sun was down, he went and buried him. Now all his neighbors blamed him, saying: Once already commandment was given for thee to be slain because of this matter, and thou didst scarce escape the sentence of death, and dost thou again bury the dead? But Tobias fearing God more than the king, carried off the bodies of them that were slain, and hid them in his house, and at midnight buried them.” (Tobias 2:3-9)