WH Calls for Investigation of Ind. Abortionist; Buttigieg Silent
The details were too horrific to ignore. At least, for some.
Authorities were called to the Illinois home of the late Indiana abortionist Ulrich “George” Klopfer on Friday evening. There, according to the local sheriff's department, law enforcement discovered more than 2,000 fetal remains. Each was medically preserved.
The coroner took charge of the evidence. The Will County Sheriff’s Office released a statement noting the discovery. National and local press ran the gruesome story.
In the aftermath, however, the leader of one of the cities where Klopfer performed thousands of abortions -- who also happens to be running for president -- has not said a word.
Emails and calls to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign have gone unanswered since Saturday. When RealClearPolitics contacted the municipal office of the mayor on Monday, an aide directed RCP back to the campaign where even more requests for comment received no response.
Not all Indiana lawmakers were so tight-lipped.
Rep. Jackie Walorski first demanded a federal investigation as soon as news of the discovery broke Saturday morning. “There could be Indiana aborted babies in those jars in this guy’s house,” the Republican who represents South Bend told RCP. “This is sick."
Rep. Jim Banks, whose district includes Fort Wayne -- where the abortionist also operated -- joined the push for an investigation. “We need to determine how Dr. Klopfer was able to get away with this for so long,” he told RCP, “and how we only know about it now that Dr. Klopfer is deceased.”
That call rippled through the Indiana congressional delegation with both Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun getting on board. And by late Monday evening, as RealClearPolitics was first to report, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb had turned to federal authorities for help.
“I am deeply disturbed that more than 2,000 fetal remains were found at the Illinois home of a deceased former northern Indiana abortion doctor,” the Republican governor wrote. “I support calls for a federal investigation.”
Eventually, word reached the White House. After meeting with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa on Monday and after monitoring the attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, Mike Pence turned his attention back to Indiana. In a tweet, he said the discovery is “appalling & should shock the conscience of every American. While I was Governor of Indiana we took [Klopfer’s] medical license away & passed a law requiring fetal remains be treated with dignity.”
The White House echoed that sentiment, confirming to RealClearPolitics that the administration will call for a full federal investigation. Deputy Communications Director Judd Deere said in a statement that the White House was “horrified” and compared the gruesome discovery “to the atrocities of Dr. Kermit Gosnell” – who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three infants that were born alive during attempted abortions.
“Murdering thousands of innocent babies is one thing, but preserving and hoarding their bodies like trophies is a new level of sickness,” Deere said. “The radical left now defends late-term abortions, including infanticide, while President Trump protects our most innocent and vulnerable, and defends the dignity of life. A full investigation is needed to determine whether crimes were committed and if anyone else was involved.”
Klopfer, who died Sept. 3, was the most prolific abortionist in Indiana, performing the procedure throughout the state for decades until the Indiana Medical Licensing Board stripped him of his operating license in 2016. He was cited for failing to exercise reasonable care by withholding pain medication from some women. By his own admission, he also violated several notice and documentation requirements. Klopfer once performed an abortion for a 10-year-old Illinois girl who had been raped by her uncle. The parents of the girl knew about the sexual assault. They chose not to prosecute. The abortionist never called the police.
Only in death has Klopfer escaped further legal trouble. Indiana law requires burial or cremation of fetal remains following abortions. It was signed by Pence in 2016 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2019.
All of this is an argument for increased government regulation, argue local and national anti-abortion groups. But Buttigieg has been more laissez fair on this issue. When the Indiana State Department of Health denied Whole Woman's Health of South Bend a license, citing a lack “of reputable and responsible character” and a failure to disclose “information related to additional clinics,” Buttigieg rallied to the facility’s cause.
“The mayor is deeply concerned by what he views as a new and extreme assault on Roe v. Wade in legislatures across the country,” Buttigieg spokesman Chris Meagher told the Chicago Tribune in August. “He believes that the truly radical idea in this debate and around abortion care is one of banning abortion outright.”
With the support of the mayor and a court injunction, the clinic was allowed to open and operate without a license. According to Buttigieg, the facility was critical needed hub for women, especially those of low income. According to Texas officials, however, the abortion franchise that operates in several states was a public health risk.
Medical inspectors in the Lone Star State reported dozens of health and safety violations at Whole Woman’s Health clinics in Austin, Beaumont and McAllen, including failing to keep a registered nurse on staff and inadequately sterilizing equipment.
While the Trump campaign declined to speak to the specifics of the Klopfer case, Buttigieg might not escape criticism for long. The abortionist operated in his city, and Buttigieg has opposed increased regulation of the industry. Most recently, he pointed to Scripture to say that there are “a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath.”
Pence and the administration take issue with that interpretation. And for good political reason: Trump solidified the evangelical vote in 2016 by embracing an anti-abortion stance on the debate stage, accusing then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supporting late-term procedures.
“Based on what she is saying and based on where she's going and where she's been, you can take a baby and rip the baby out of the womb,” Trump said. “In the ninth month, on the final day and that's not acceptable.”
Trump echoed that message in his last State of the Union address, and his campaign is fond of telling his supporters that this administration is the most “pro-life” in history.
Should Buttigieg find himself on stage across from Trump, or across from Pence to compete for the vice presidency, the mayor will likely have to explain his opposition to abortion regulations and break his silence on the infamous abortionist who operated in his city for decades.