The disrespectful treatment of aborted babies' human remains by abortion doctors, demands federal action, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has said in the wake of news reports about abortion doctors' "disturbing" practices.
"Whether you support or oppose legalized abortion, I hope you will agree that these human bodies should not be wantonly discarded as medical waste or preserved at the whim of the abortion doctor," Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas said in an Oct. 31 letter to members of Congress.
Naumann chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. He wrote Congress in support of the Dignity for Aborted Children Act.
The legislation would require abortion providers to dispose of aborted children's remains just as any other human being. Failure to do so could result in a fine and up to five years in prison, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana), a co-sponsor of the bill. The legislation also would require a consent form to allow the mother to choose whether to retain possession of her unborn child's remains or to allow the provider to cremate or inter the remains of the unborn child. Failure to do so could result in civil penalty.
The archbishop's letter briefly recounted the "disturbing reality of abortion doctors keeping fetal remains."
He cited the discovery of over 2,400 bodies in the home of Illinois Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who performed abortions in Indiana. Naumann quoted Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who said: "The grisly discovery of these fetal remains at the Illinois home of a deceased abortion doctor shocks the conscience."
Klopfer had performed obstetrics, gynecological services, and surgical and medical abortions at clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary, and South Bend, Indiana. He was estimated to have aborted more than 30,000 children over a span of four decades. His medical license was suspended by the state of Indiana in 2015 and indefinitely in 2016, after numerous complaints were issued against him.
Several days after Klopfer died on Sept. 3, his family alerted Will County, Illinois authorities about the discovery of fetal remains at his Illinois residence.
The discovery prompted renewed focus on abortion clinics and the treatment of the remains. Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend offered to have the fetal remains buried at a Catholic cemetery in his diocese.
Naumann's letter cited problems in other parts of the country.
Employees of Texas abortionist Dr. Douglas Karpen testified that he regularly disposed of body parts in a clinic toilet. Michigan abortionist Michael Roth "kept body parts in jars in his car," said the archbishop. Other clinics have kept biohazard bags full of body parts in closets or have thrown them into the garbage.
Such mistreatment shows the need for laws requiring change, the archbishop said.
"Such basic courtesy is in keeping with society's treatment of all other deceased persons including cadavers, donated organs and tissues, remains that are recovered after traumatic incidents, and so on," he wrote. "As a nation, we can at least come together to ensure all human remains are treated with basic human dignity."
The disrespectful treatment of human remains make people on all sides of the abortion debate "uncomfortable, sad, and angry," Naumann said, adding that every culture and religious tradition, including Catholic Christianity, has customs about how to care for the dead.
"For Catholics, the Church has long taught that 'the human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God",' that our bodies are a reminder of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and of that resurrection, which we too will experience after death, and burying the dead is taught as one of the seven corporal works of mercy," he explained.
"Other faiths and belief systems likewise promote dignified treatment of the deceased and respectful disposal of their remains," he said, also citing health regulations and ethical guidance for medicine and science that indicates the social need to dispose of the human body in a respectful manner.
The Dignity for Aborted Children Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Sen. Mike Braun(R-Indiana). It is co-sponsored by his fellow Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young and several other senators.
The bill is endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List, the March for Life, the Family Research Council, National Right to Life and Concerned Women for America.