Disposal of Aborted Fetal Remains

What are “Aborted Fetal Remains”?

Aborted fetal remains include all the body parts of a fetus who has been killed by abortion. In some cases, the fetus will be all in one piece. In other cases, especially second-term abortions, the fetus is dismembered for ease of delivery.

How are Aborted Fetal Remains disposed of currently?

State by State

There are no federal laws specifically concerning aborted fetal tissue disposal. This issue has historically been legislated by each state. Today, aborted fetal remains laws are a mix of state health codes, statutes, and regulations, according to a report released by the Charlotte Lozier Institute. [1]

Methods of Disposal

Former abortion clinic workers have described fetal body parts, including parts of larger babies aborted in the second trimester, being flushed down toilets. Those body parts end up in the city sewage system. [2] Fetal remains have been stored in freezers, and later incinerated. [3] They have been dumped in landfills. [4] One grotesque news story from Oregon reported aborted fetal remains being burned to provide energy for homes. [5] In another grisly news report, an abortion doctor carried around 15 jars of aborted babies in his trunk.

Renee Chelian

Michigan abortion clinic worker Renee Chelian [6], was a panelist at a 2015 National Abortion Federation Conference. [7] She spoke about storing fetal body parts in abortion clinic freezers for 5 months after her fetal remains and medical waste disposal company “fired us.”

She joked: “We were really tempted to give the fetus back. Um, we thought, we’ll give it to everybody in a gift bag – they can take it home, figure out what to do with it. It’s their pregnancy, and why is this our problem?”

Unborn Infants Dignity Act (UIDA)

The Unborn Infants Dignity Act (UIDA) is legislation drafted by Americans United for Life, and has been proposed in 28 states since 2016. [8] Americans United for Life is a pro-life public interest law firm founded in 1971. They “provide state lawmakers, state attorneys general, public policy groups, lobbyists, the media, and others involved in the cause for life with proven legal strategies and tools that will, step by step and state by state, lead to a more pro-life America.” [9]

The goal of UIDA laws is the humane disposal of human fetal remains.
Abortion rights supporters have claimed that this law would require burial of any fetus, regardless of gestational age or size. Others have stated that the law would require women who miscarry or abort at home to bring in their baby’s remains in a jar. In reality, UIDA legislation mandates that the bodily remains of aborted babies “who have reached a stage of development so that there are cartilaginous structures and/or fetal or skeletal parts and who are ‘expelled or extracted’ at an institution must be either cremated or buried.” [10]

Some states’ UIDA laws only apply to aborted babies. Others include stillborn or miscarried or both stillborn and miscarried babies. An example of Indiana’s UIDA law is here.

Why Should We Care?

In 2016, Indiana enacted a version of UIDA. Christopher Cooke, superintendent of cemeteries in Fort Wayne, stated in an article for The Atlantic: “Everyone deserves to go through the grief and loss process with dignity, from the individual we’re putting in the ground … to the family and friends who are paying their respects. This is a chance to give those individuals who don’t have anyone to fight for them the dignity and respect to go through a burial.” [11]

Objections

Some opponents of UIDA laws argue that because fetuses are not considered humans by the law while alive, they should not be after death. As detailed here, both federal and state laws recognize that a fetus is a human being. Examples of federal laws include the 2002 Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Act, and the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Certainly, it’s contradictory to have laws that ban the murder of human beings, laws that acknowledge that fetuses are human beings, and laws that allow the killing of fetuses. However, the claim that current state and federal laws do not recognize the humanity of a preborn baby is false.

A complete listing of objections and AUL responses is here.

Recent Rulings on UIDA Legislation

Texas

In Texas in September, 2018, a federal judge struck down a version of the UIDA with a permanent injunction. This means that the law will not be enforced. In his ruling, Judge David Ezra stated that the law imposed “significant burdens on women seeking an abortion.” [12]

It’s unclear what burdens he was referring to because women seeking abortions would not incur any additional financial cost due to the law. Instead, each abortion clinic would be financially responsible for any costs of cremation and burial or interment of ashes. In the Texas case, the plaintiff agreed that cost was not even a factor in whether the law should be upheld or not. Furthermore, the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops offered to provide free fetal burial services to any hospital or abortion center in the state.

Though UIDA laws do not financially burden women seeking abortions, abortion supporters consider this type of law ‘burdensome’ because it: “increases the grief, stigma, shame, and distress of women experiencing an abortion.” [13] One wonders: if abortion is not the taking of a human life, what is there to be distressed about?

In response to Judge Ezra’s ruling, Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life stated: “The unfortunate reality is that abortion will remain readily available in Texas and will occur tens of thousands of times every year. This law merely requires that the dignity of the unborn child is recognized after abortion and that their remains are not treated as medical waste.” [14]

Indiana

Separately in Indiana, the 2016 UIDA law mentioned above was challenged by Planned Parenthood. Americans United for Life (AUL) filed a “friend of the court” brief requesting that the Supreme Court hear this case because it has implications nationally. The Indiana UIDA law’s constitutionality affects similar laws on the books or being proposed across the country. [15] [16]

AUL’s brief noted that the humanity of the preborn human fetus has been acknowledged in such various areas of United States law as: tort law, guardianship law, healthcare law, property law, and family law.

Additionally, nearly all states have wrongful death statutes covering the death of a preborn human fetus or a fetus who is born but later dies from in utero injuries.

Finally, United States law has protections for survivors of failed abortions, also known as the 2002 Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, as well as a ban on intact D&X or dilation and extraction or partial-birth abortions.

What’s Really at Stake?

UIDA laws really get at the heart of the question:when does life begin? That is why abortion rights proponents are so offended by UIDA laws. If fetuses were not human beings, then their disposal would be the same as any other biohazardous waste from a doctor’s office or hospital, etc.

Since abortion clinics absorb the cost, not the pregnant woman, abortion proponents cannot object to the law for financial reasons (see Indiana case above). They object to the requirement that each pregnant patient and abortion clinic staff counselor have to address the humanity of the unborn child by deciding how to dispose of its dead body.

Tanya Marsh, a law professor at Wake Forest University, summed up the importance of UIDA laws this way for the 2016 The Atlantic article: “The most important impact of this law is taking another step toward recognizing fetuses as humans. That’s a philosophical goal of the law. It doesn’t have to do anything else except sit on the books and start to impact the way people think about it.” [17]

Abortion Clinic Violence

The way many abortion advocates tell it, pro-life individuals are modern-day domestic terrorists. They report near-constant “harrassment“and even violence toward abortion clinic doctors and staff, as well as the women coming for abortions themselves. Are their claims true? Or are they exaggerated or even fabricated stories trumped up for political motives? Is being anti-abortion the same thing as being pro-life?

Before we continue, we must make one thing clear: we are against violence of any kind including against those in the abortion industry. If we want respect for life in the womb, we must also respect all lives involved in abortion.

What is “Abortion Violence”?

“Abortion violence” includes a broad range of activities and actions, according to several abortion rights organizations like the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and the Feminist Majority Foundation. For instance, they consider posting a pro-life comment on a pro-choice social media page “harassment,” reportable as “abortion violence” in national surveys.

Survey Says

The NAF tracks “abortion clinic violence and disruption”. They send out a questionnaire annually to all known abortion clinics and then release a report of their findings. Their annual report has three categories: violence, disruption, and clinic blockades, tracked over four time periods: 1977-1989, 1990-1999. 2000-2009, and 2010-2017. Their latest report does not state how many clinics responded.

NAF report: Violence

The Violence category includes: murder, attempted murder, bombing, arson, attempted bombing/arson, invasion, vandalism, trespassing, butyric acid attacks, anthrax/bioterrorism threats, assault and battery, death threats or threats of harm, kidnapping, burglary, and stalking. Of note, several of these categories have had between zero and three events reported since 2000. Also of note, trespassing includes any person entering an abortion facility with the intent to dissuade patients from going through with the procedure, regardless of whether they are doing so peacefully.

NAF Report: Disruption

The Disruption category includes: Hate Mail or Harrassing Calls, Hate Email or Internet Harrassment, Hoax Devices/Suspicious Packages, Bomb Threats, Picketing, and Obstruction. For clarification purposes, Hate Mail or Harrassing Calls along with Hate Email or Internet Harrassment includes any mail or phone call or e-mail or internet posting to a pro-abortion organization or clinic which does not support abortion and/or encourages abortion clinic workers to consider quitting.

Picketing includes any person standing outside or nearby a facility where abortions are performed, regardless of whether they are praying out loud or shouting or standing silently or attempting to speak to clinic staff or patients. In short, anyone present outside of an abortion facility who does not support abortion is considered a picketer. According to Reports of picketing are far and away the most reported form of disruption.

Obstruction includes various methods of attempting to delay business operations at an abortion facility. This could include linking arms to block the doorway of a clinic, blocking the driveway of a clinic, or otherwise physically blocking entry.

NAF Report: Clinic Blockades

The third category, Clinic Blockades, includes Clinic Incidents and Clinic Arrests. Clinic Incidents is not defined in the report, but perhaps refers to times that an abortion facility called law enforcement? Clinic Arrests refers to a total number of arrests, and the report notes that “Many blockaders are arrested multiple times.”

The full report is here.

National Clinic Violence Survey

The Feminist Majority Foundation conducts a yearly survey of abortion clinics encouraging them to self-report “anti-abortion violence, intimidation, and harassment of abortion providers.” Their 2018 survey contacted 729 abortion clinics and 219 responded, for a response rate of 30%.

According to their report, 24% of the 219 clinics reported at least one incident of severe violence OR threat of severe violence as defined below. They classified as severe violence: “blocking clinic access (also known as blockades), invasions, bombings, arson, chemical attacks, stalking, physical violence, gunfire, bomb threats, death threats, arson threats, as well as other incidences of severe violence.” The most common form of severe violence was “blocking clinic access.” 9.1% of respondents reported it. Stalking was second most common, reported by 7.3% of respondents, followed by “invasions,” (called “trespassing” in the NAF report above) reported by 6.8%.

Categorizing “blockades” and “invasions” as “severe violence” seems disingenuous, given that these types of activities did not cause physical harm to anyone anywhere during 2018. See more on invasions below.

Abortion Restrictions and Rates of Violence or Disruption

Do states with more abortion restrictions have higher rates of abortion clinic violence and disruption? A 2012 article in the medical journal Contraception examined this question. They analyzed self-reported responses from the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 2010 National Clinic Violence Survey.

They found that states with more restrictive abortion laws had more acts of “harrassment” and/or minor vandalism than states with less restrictive abortion laws. Harassment was defined as “videotaping or photographing patients, approaching or blocking cars, recording patients’ license plates, making threatening phone calls, filing frivolous lawsuits, creating noise disturbances, forming clinic blockades, and posting patient or staff information on the Internet.”

Fact vs. Fiction

Unfortunately, it is all too true that 11 abortion providers or clinic workers have been murdered in the last 30 years. 7 murders occurred in the 1990s, 1 in 2009, and 3 during one incident in 2015. [3] Their deaths are horrific, unconscionable, unjustifiable. Violence of any kind is in direct opposition to the reverence for every human life that the pro-life movement represents. There can be no exceptions to respect and care for the dignity of each person’s life.

Murders at Abortion Clinics

2015 Garrett Swasey, Ke’Arre Stewart, and Jennifer Markovsky

2009 Dr George Tiller

1998 Barnett Slepian

1998 Robert Sanderson

1994 Leanne Nichols and Shannon Lowney

1994 Dr John Bayard Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett

1993 Dr Dravid Gunn

Documented Incidents of Violence

The NAF and Feminist Majority Foundation conclude that all acts of violence or harrassment that occur at abortion clinics or towards abortion clinic staff are by pro-life individuals. They further imply that the individuals who pray on the sidewalk in front of their hometown abortion clinics are the same individuals who go and vandalize clinics or (attempt to) harm workers. A sampling of recent documented incidents of violence or vandalism at abortion clinics is not consistent with this stereotype.

In 2018, a man drove a truck into a New Jersey abortion clinic. Three people were injured. The motive was unknown. The man had no ties to pro-life organizations.

In 2017, bricks were thrown through a window of a Cleveland abortion clinic facility on three separate days. The motive was unknown.

Also in 2017, three members of the White Rabbits militia group bombed a Minnesota mosque and attempted to bomb an Illinois abortion clinic. No one was injured. Their motive in bombing the abortion clinic was unclear. [

In 2015, a man shot and killed three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood. Nine others were injured. The man was recorded saying that he specifically targeted the clinic because it performed abortions. He had no previous connection to pro-life work or organizations.

In 2015, an individual destroyed several security cameras and a power generator at an abortion clinic in Mississippi. The vandalism occurred after hours with no reported injuries.

In 2009, abortion provider Dr George Tiller was shot in the head inside his church in Kansas by a man who targeted him because he performed abortions. His killer, Scott Roeder, had a Post-It note on the dashboard of his vehicle with the phone number for pro-life organization Operation Rescue. Operation Rescue’s statement is here.

But what about….?

Operation Rescue

Operation Rescue is a well-known national pro-life organization. It was founded in 1986. It was most famous in the late 1980s and 1990s, particularly the Summer of Mercy of 1991, for leading “the largest movement involving peaceful civil disobedience in American history. During those early years, thousands of men and women willingly sat in front of abortion mill doors to prevent the killing of innocent children and paid the penalty in arrest and prosecution on trespassing charges,” according to the organization’s website.

Over the years, their leadership has changed, and their focus has shifted to ending abortion through documentation. They track 911 calls by abortion clinics, unsafe abortion providers, women injured or killed by abortion, and abortion clinic closings. Their partner website AbortionDocs.org is a comprehensive listing of abortion clinics in the nation along with hundreds of documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. These documents tell of failed health inspections, abortion providers who sexually abused their patients, malpractice lawsuits and more.

Abortion rights organizations routinely accuse Operation Rescue of fomenting hate and violence, and their response is here. Abortion rights organizations also cite vice president Cheryl Sullenger’s past criminal conviction, and their response is here.

Operation Save America

Operation Save America formed in 1991 as a split off of Operation Rescue. Their message is broader than Operation Rescue’s, and includes supporting traditional marriage and exposing the dangers of Islam. They strongly favor the “rescue” approach to ending abortion. A “rescue” is when activists enter an abortion clinic and sit in the waiting room, encouraging women scheduled to have abortions to keep their babies instead. Typically, the activists do not leave when asked. They are then arrested by police for trespassing and/or blocking the clinic doors. They are more controversial than Operation Rescue, in part because they have stated that some women who have abortions should be criminally prosecuted. They also have ties with several individuals who signed a 1993 statement that homicide of abortion providers was morally acceptable.

Controversial Tactics

Red Rose Rescues

As mentioned above, abortion clinic “blockades” and “invasions” are some of the most common forms of abortion clinic disruption. These modern-day protess have their roots in the pro life movement of the 1980s and 90s. Especially during the 1991 Summer of Mercy, thousands of pro-lifers were arrested for physically blocking abortion clinic entrances or parking lots. Their goal was to save lives by peaceful civil disobedience. In recent years, “rescues” have resurfaced.

Particularly in 2017, Red Rose Rescue activists entered women’s clinics across the country, presenting the women inside with roses and a plea not to have an abortion. One of the RRR founders, Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller, shared the rationale in a 2018 article for Celebrate Life magazine:

“Certainly not all of the women respond to our plea, yet we have firsthand experience of women actually leaving the abortion facility. We know that their babies were saved at least that day. Every sidewalk counselor knows that’s a victory! The women who left had a chance to reconsider their decision to abort. That would not have happened unless we had been inside the clinic to urge them to give life to their babies!”

Sidewalk Advocates for Life Respond

Also in 2017, Sidewalk Advocates for Life released a 20 minute Youtube documentary called “Desperate Measures: Saving the Movement that is Saving Lives”. In it, several former abortion clinic workers offer perspective on what sit-ins and trespassing or invasions look like from the inside. They state that any time a person “breaks the law” by trespassing, they reinforce a stereotype about pro-lifers. These protestors, nonviolent and peaceful though they may intend to be, become aggressors in the eyes and hearts of clinic staff. Clinic staff figure that if pro-lifers are capable of trespassing, they could be capable of causing actual physical harm.

Furthermore, pregnant women who come for abortions are routinely moved behind closed doors per protocol. And behind those closed doors, the abortions continue.

The Sidewalk Advocates’ video argued that sit-ins or other clinic invasions may achieve a short-term gain of delaying or stopping abortions for a day. In the long-term, though, other methods are more effective in ending abortion.

Other Methods More Effective

This approach is consistent with Operation Rescue’s own statements. From their book “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time,” Operation Rescue leaders Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger note:

“Changes in culture and the advent of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994….forced Operation Rescue to develop new tactics to close abortion clinics. The peaceful sit-ins, known as Rescues, would close an abortion clinic for a few hours or maybe a full day, but they would result in lengthy court hearings, fines, and often jail time. Today, Operation Rescue employs new tactics that are closing abortion clinics permanently.” (from the book’s preface)

What Does the Law Say?

The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Law, enacted in 1994, prohibits use of force, threat of force, or physical obstruction of entrances to abortion clinics. [2]

FACE specifically prohibits “the use of force or threat of force or physical obstruction” to intentionally injure, intimidate, or interfere with someone seeking to enter a facility that provides abortions. FACE also prohibits the same actions at places of religious worship.

The penalty for a first violation of FACE is 6-12 months in prison, and a fine of $10,000 to $100,000. Subsequent convictions carry a punishment of 18-36 months in prison and a fine of $25,000 to $250,000. These penalties are far more severe than the penalties already imposed by state law for the acts prohibited by FACE. [3]

A Better Way

Two organizations utilizing best practices in ending abortion include 40 Days for Life and And Then There Were None.

The 40 Days for Life Approach

40 Days for Life began in 2004, and is now an international organization. Their methods are simple: end abortion through 40-day campaigns of prayer and fasting at local abortion clinics or hospitals that perform abortions. The results in these last 15 years have been remarkable. They report 15, 256 babies saved, 186 abortion clinic workers leaving their jobs, and 99 locations of prayer campaigns closed.[

And Then There Were None

In 2009, Planned Parenthood Clinic Director Abby Johnson quit her job. In 2011, she founded And Then There Were None. Their mission is to: “love an abortion clinic worker out of the industry” and to “end abortion from the inside out.” They provide financial assistance to abortion clinic workers who leave their jobs, as well as help with resumes’ and finding new jobs. They also offer healing retreats for former clinic workers. As of January 2019, nearly 500 abortion clinic workers have quit their jobs.

Video: I’m Pro-Life Ask Me Why!

One of the best ways that you can help spread the movement is to talk about it.

Talking about abortion is very important.

It normalizes what is usually a taboo subject. It allows people to stop approaching it out of a place of fear of social awkwardness and start approaching it with reason.

Most of the time, reason isn’t used when talking about abortion.

The conversation is generally driven by emotions.

So, what can you do?

Be proud of your pro-life stance! Tell people that you’re pro-life and let them ask you why.

Then explain it calmly.

That is one of the best things you can do to spread the message!