Abortion-rights opponents – including Republican state lawmakers from northeast Indiana – are demanding that a dead abortion provider be investigated.
They also seek the return of the remains of any fetuses that might have been preserved by Dr. Ulrich “George” Klopfer after abortions he performed at his Fort Wayne clinic, which closed in late 2013.
“Ultimately, it's our desire that if any of those babies' bodies, those little boys and girls, are identified as having come from this Fort Wayne facility, we would like to have them released to us so that we can have a proper funeral and burial out of respect for these babies,” Cathie Humbarger, executive director of Allen County Right to Life, said Monday at a news conference outside Klopfer's former clinic on Inwood Drive near State and Coliseum boulevards.
Investigators in Will County, Illinois, found 2,246 medically preserved fetal remains at Klopfer's home last week after his family reported discovering what appeared to be fetal remains. Klopfer died Sept. 3 at age 74.
Will County sheriff's spokeswoman Kathy Hoffmeyer said Monday that the investigation of Klopfer's home is “a very sensitive situation” involving the sheriff's office, coroner's office and prosecutors, according to an Associated Press story. Hoffmeyer said no further information will be released until the investigation is completed.
State Sens. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, and state Rep. Christy Stutzman, R-Middlebury, called for the Indiana attorney general and the Indiana State Department of Health to investigate Klopfer, who also operated abortion clinics in South Bend and Gary until losing his medical and facility licenses in 2016.
“We will be doing everything we can and in our power to make sure that justice is served, that these children are given a dignified and proper burial, and that closure happens for many women right now – I know even some of them personally – that are being retraumatized by this,” Stutzman, the wife of former Congressman Marlin Stutzman, said at Monday's news conference.
Brown wants a criminal investigation of Klopfer.
“Obviously, he operated behind closed doors and violated the law, which is why this man lost his license to begin with,” Brown said.
“To find out today that he has remains in Illinois and no one even knows where they came from or how he acquired them? We don't even know if they came from these clinics that were only ostensibly legally operated,” she said.
Brown said she “absolutely” wants any remains from Indiana clinics returned to the state. The U.S. Supreme Court in May upheld an Indiana law requiring aborted fetal tissue be buried or cremated.
The Indianapolis Star reported Monday that Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said his office will work with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on an investigation.
Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, said Kopfler's preservation of fetal remains “is simply sickening.” Fichter said questions he seeks answers to include whether women who had abortions knew that the remains of their fetuses would be preserved by Klopfer, whether the remains were preserved for possible sale to research facilities and whether any of Klopfer's staff members were complicit in the preservation of remains.
Humbarger said she does not know why Klopfer kept fetal remains.
“We're limited only by our imagination as to what a man with a twisted mind might think about to save the aborted remains of the children that died at his hand,” she said.
Serena Dyksen of Elkhart said Klopfer aborted her fetus at his South Bend clinic in 1988 when Dyksen was 13. She hopes to sue Klopfer's estate to find out through DNA testing “if my daughter was one of the babies on his property. If he could have the babies all these years later, I have a right to know if she was one of them.”
Klopfer's Fort Wayne clinic closed because he no longer had a backup doctor with hospital admitting privileges as required by an Allen County abortion ordinance. Dr. Geoff Cly, an obstetrician/gynecologist who quit as Klopfer's backup physician, said Monday he once treated a woman whom Klopfer had “butchered” during an abortion.
“Taking aborted babies home and hiding them is disgusting, horrible and proves George Klopfer was a psychopath. It is good he is no longer on this Earth,” Cly said. “It is unfortunate we were not able to shut him down and stop him from doing this years sooner than we did.”
U.S. Reps. Jim Banks, R-3rd, and Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, have issued statements supporting a federal investigation of Klopfer and the fetal remains. Tim Smith, the Republican candidate for mayor of Fort Wayne, said Monday in a statement he wants the matter investigated.
This story has been corrected.