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'Deserve to have their deaths investigated' | Republicans demand action on fetuses found in rowhouse

A joint letter from 18 Republican senators and 5 representatives calls for action and a "thorough investigation" by Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chief Robert Contee.

WASHINGTON — Republican members of Congress are demanding action from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Robert Contee following the discovery of fetal remains inside a Capitol Hill rowhouse on March 30. 

A joint letter sent to Bowser and Contee Tuesday from 18 Republican senators and 5 representatives calls for a "thorough investigation" into the timeline of when the fetuses were aborted to determine whether the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 was violated. The letter also cc's Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

"As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to conduct oversight over the District of Columbia, to ensure D.C. upholds laws enacted by Congress, particularly those enacted to protect and uphold the sanctity of human life," the letter addressed to Bowser and Contee begins. "Instead of ensuring that the horrific deaths of these children were properly investigated, Metropolitan Police made the assumption that each child died as the result of a legal abortion."

The letter goes on to allege that DC Police "made the assumption" without medical evaluations and asks that the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office performs autopsies. 

"We demand that a thorough investigation is conducted into the death of each child," the letter says. "In order to accomplish such investigation, we request and fully expect the city to conduct autopsies on the children and preserve all collected evidence."

The ME's office has said the five fetuses all appear to have been aborted in accordance with D.C. law.

RELATED: Lauren Handy's anti-abortion group now claims it took 115 fetuses from outside DC clinic

The letter ends with seven questions, which the senders asked for answers to by close of business Wednesday. That deadline passed without response from the District.

  1. As you are aware partial-birth abortion, as defined in 18 U.S. Code § 1531 is illegal and punishable by fine, imprisonment or both. How did the Metropolitan Police reach the conclusion while recovering the remains of each child that all of the children died as the result of a legal abortion? 
  2.  In order to ensure that no child was subjected to a partial birth abortion and that no child was born alive and left to die, will you commit to conducting a thorough investigation of the death of each child? 
  3. As part of such investigation, will you commit to ensuring the preservation of each child’s remains for appropriate examination during the investigation? 
  4. Will you direct the Chief Medical Examiner to perform an autopsy on each child to determine the method and cause of death in accordance with § 5–1405 of D.C. Code? 
  5. Will you direct a subsequent autopsy to be completed by an independent, licensed pathologist to confirm the findings of the Chief Medical Examiner? 
  6. If an autopsy suggests any of the children were victims of criminal activity, will you immediately refer the evidence to both the Department of Justice and the Attorney General for the District of Columbia for criminal prosecution? 
  7. Will you commit to properly and respectfully burying each child?

"These five children, like all children, have inherent value and deserved better than abortion – they deserved life," the letter says. "But at a minimum, they deserve to have their deaths investigated to ensure that no D.C. or federal laws were broken."

READ: See the full letter below. 

Anti-abortion activists Terrisa Bukovinac and Lauren Handy, with Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, sat down for an exclusive interview with WUSA9 the day before holding a press conference to discuss how and why fetal remains came to be in Handy's possession. In that interview, they claim the five fetuses discovered in a rowhouse where Handy was living were among 115 fetuses they recovered from Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services outside Washington Surgi-Clinic on F Street. They went on to say they made the decision to have 110 of the fetuses buried in a private ceremony overseen by a Catholic priest and to turn over five of the fetuses they believed to be at late gestational ages to law enforcement. Handy and Bukovinac said they searched for three days for a private pathologist to examine the fetuses, but were unsuccessful. 

Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services says it does not transport fetal remains by company policy and also denied that any package was ever handed over to the anti-abortion group.

“At no time did the Curtis Bay employee hand over any of these packages to the PAAU or other third party, and any allegations made otherwise are false,” the company said in a statement.

RELATED: Feds charge anti-abortion activists with 'conspiracy against rights'

Handy and eight others are facing federal charges for invading the Washington Surgi-Clinic two years ago. Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington has accused the group of harassing patients at their clinic as well, and D.C. Superior Court Records show Handy and associated anti-abortion activists have been arrested on multiple occasions – although the majority of those cases resulted in a $50 ticket.

The Washington Surgi-Clinic has declined repeated requests to comment, but a WUSA9 review of five years of Department of Health inspection reports determined inspectors have consistently found nothing to cite at the clinic. And Dr. Cesare Santangelo, the abortion doctor at the clinic, has been licensed to practice in D.C. for more than 20 years without any disciplinary issues on his record.

RELATED: Medical waste company in anti-abortion group's photos denies transporting fetal remains

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