Diocese offers prayers, burial of remains

Photo by Eric Ginnard of The Herald-News via APOfficers from the Fort Wayne Police Department search the building that once housed an abortion clinic owned by Dr. Ulrich Klopfer on Sept. 19 in Fort Wayne. After the doctor’s death on Sept. 3, more than 2,000 medically preserved fetal remains were found in the garage of his home in rural Crete, Illinois.  

MERRILLVILLE ­— Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office will bring the remains of 2,246 fetuses back to Indiana to continue the investigation and make sure they receive proper burial.

Hill said he wants to “make sure they are treated with the proper dignity and respect deserving of anyone.”

The Diocese of Gary is offering to make sure that happens by offering a burial site.

“I am honored to offer a final resting place for the fetal remains,” said Michael Welsh, chief operations officer of Gary Diocesan Cemeteries. “We are working with officials to explore how to best facilitate that process.”

The remains were discovered earlier this month at the Illinois home of the late Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, a physician who performed abortions at clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary and South Bend.

The Rev. Michael J. Yadron, administrator of the Diocese of Gary, said, “Bodies are the temples of the soul. When a life ends, we bury that person with reverence.

“As so many others, I was appalled when I first heard about the finding of more than 2,246 medically preserved remains of unborn children in the Illinois home of Ulrich Klopfer, who performed thousands of abortions in Northwest Indiana over the years.

“I am in full support of the investigation underway by the attorneys general in both Indiana and Illinois,” Yadron said.

“All life is sacred because all individuals are created in the immortal image and likeness of God. Following the lead of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, which is offering assistance in the burials, the Diocese of Gary’s Catholic cemeteries have also offered to bury the fetal remains,” Yadron said.

“We are going to continue this matter to determine as best we can exactly what happened,” Hill said at a press conference. “But in the meantime, I can tell you that we are going to bring our babies home ...”

Following Klopfer’s Sept. 3 death, Illinois authorities on Sept. 12 learned that family members going through his belongings found the preserved fetal remains stored at his residence. Since learning the fetuses were from Indiana, Illinois officials turned over information and evidence to Hill’s office.

The preliminary investigation has revealed that the fetuses were aborted from the years 2000 to 2002.

Besides ensuring the remains receive appropriate disposition under Indiana law, the AG’s office is also working to preserve and protect thousands of medical records found both at Klopfer’s Illinois residence and at his abandoned Indiana abortion clinics, Hill said.

On Thursday, search warrants were executed at the Indiana locations and possession of records left at those properties was taken. No fetal remains were discovered in Indiana.

“We have a concern about the abandoned records,” Hill said. “Folks who use these clinics have a high degree of expectation of privacy and confidentiality ... It’s deplorable now that folks who went into this procedure, no matter how you feel about this procedure, have to relive that moment” with such uncertainty about the final disposition of the remains.

Hill announced that his office has set up a phone number and email address for the specific use of anyone with possible connections to the fetal remains who may wish to inquire. The email address is questions@atg.in.gov, and the number is (317) 234-6663.

In 2016, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law requiring that medical facilities either bury or cremate fetal remains following abortions. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that law.

“The disturbing chain of events surrounding Dr. Klopfer’s actions demonstrates the need for state laws regulating the final disposition of fetal remains,” Hill said.

“Abortion takes lives and creates victims,” Yadron said. “Many women (and men) feel wounded after procuring an abortion. Often, the wounds do not surface until months or years later. There is hope for those who struggle with the ramifications of abortion.

“Project Rachel (888-456-HOPE) is one of the ministries that offers support to people of all faiths who are in emotional and spiritual pain after an abortion,” he said.

“There has been a huge outcry about the number of fetal remains found recently. As tragic as that number is, the fact remains that it is just shy of the number of abortions that take place daily in the United States,” Yadron said. “Life is sacred. We must proclaim that fact, and do all that we can to preserve life at all stages.”

—From staff reports 

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