News & Politics

Lauren Handy Claims to Have Actually Had 115 Fetuses

Handy says 110 of them were blessed and buried. The other five are with the police.

Lauren Handy at a press conference. Photograph by Kayla Benjamin.

Last week, DC Police found five fetuses in the home of pro-life activist Lauren Handy. During a press conference Tuesday, the pro-life group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising claimed that figure was incomplete: Handy allegedly had 115 fetuses, including the five already in police custody.

The provenance of those 115 fetuses is bizarre: the group claims several activists (including Handy) encountered a driver from Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services loading biohazard boxes into his truck outside the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Foggy Bottom on March 25. They say they convinced the driver to give them a box. (A statement disputing the credibility of these claims, apparently from Curtis Bay Energy, was read by another reporter at the press conference. Curtis Bay Energy has not responded to voicemails asking for comment.)

After issuing a substantial trigger warning, PAAU screened a video that purports to show activists using a kitchen knife to cut into a cardboard “Curtis Bay Energy” box with a biohazard label before discovering what they claim were the 115 fetuses, most at early stages of gestation. The group said a priest came to Handy’s apartment to name and bless the babies, holding a funeral mass before burying 110 of the fetuses in an unidentified “private cemetery.”

The group claims that the other five fetuses were at later gestational stages, and were therefore possible evidence that Washington Surgi-Clinic had violated the federal Partial Birth Abortion Act and the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. (After this article was published, Surgi-Clinic sent a statement that read, in part, “For more than 45 years, Washington Surgi-Clinic has been providing safe, high-quality, confidential medical care… We comply with state and federal laws.”) According to the Washington Post, executive assistant chief of police Ashan Benedict told reporters on Thursday that “there doesn’t seem to be anything criminal in nature about [the fetuses] except for how they got into this house.” DC police spokesperson Dustin Sternbeck tells Washingtonian the matter “remains an ongoing investigation.”

Addressing critics of the group’s jawdropping tactics, Randall Terry—a national anti-abortion activist working with PAAU—said, “It’s offensive that anyone would call into question [the activists’] manners or their integrity for having these babies in the refrigerator, when they took such care to treat them with honor and dignity, and sought nothing but a proper Christian burial.”

Terrisa Bukovinac, PAAU’s founder and executive director, demanded at the press conference that the US Department of Justice prosecute Cesare Santagelo, a doctor at the clinic. The activists also claimed Tuesday that some portion of the Baltimore region’s household electricity is generated by burning fetal remains.

Sylvie McNamara
Staff Writer
Kayla Benjamin
Assistant Editor