Lauren Handy, director of activism at the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising group, is at the center of a police investigation after the authorities found five fetuses inside her home in Washington, D.C. Handy and her colleague, PAAU founder Terrisa Bukovinac, claimed they obtained the fetuses from a local reproductive health clinic that was performing abortions illegally, but the police say their story doesn’t add up.
A Disturbing Discovery
Handy called the local police department and told them to collect five fetuses from her home, but the authorities ended up questioning Handy and Bukovinac on how the two obtained the fetuses in the first place.
Based on what they told the police, the two women went to Washington Surgi-Clinic to discourage patients from seeking abortions on March 25. But while they were there, they obtained a box with the fetal remains of over 110 fetuses.
Handy and Bukovinac tried to explain their side of the story during a press conference earlier this week.
“When we got outside the clinic, we saw a truck labeled Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services,” Bukovinac told the press. “We walked around the truck and saw the driver was about to load two large boxes with biohazard labels on the outside into the truck.”
Bukovinac said she asked the driver if he’d “get in trouble” if they took a box, and that he allowed them to take one. Handy said she then picked up the box, which she described as heavy. “I started hyperventilating, and I was panicking because I couldn’t believe this was really happening,” Handy said.
During the press conference, the women played a video that showed the contents of the box, including what looked like medical containers filled with what they said were fetal remains.
“We removed 115 unborn children from the bag,” Bukovinac explained. She added that five sets of fetal remains were more developed than the others. “There were five much larger containers.”
The video showed a partially developed fetus with a face and limbs. The activists said this was evidence that the clinic was performing illegal abortions.
The clinic declined to respond to the women’s claims. However, Curtis Bay Medical Waste said it forbids clinics from using its services to dispose of fetal tissue.
“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 statement said. The company added that, “Customers like Washington Surgi-Clinic are prohibited from disposing of fetuses and human remains via Curtis Bay’s services.”
After the police removed the fetuses from Handy’s home, they said there was no evidence that the clinic committed a crime and that the abortions were carried out “in accordance with D.C. law [and] there doesn’t seem to be anything criminal in nature about that except for how they got into this house.”
Washington, D.C. does not have a law preventing abortions after a certain week of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood-D.C. said it performs abortions up to 19 weeks. According to the website for Washington Surgi-Clinic, it provides abortions up to “27 weeks plus.”
But Handy and Bukovinac are sticking by their story. Handy said she saw the driver from the medical waste company scan the box into the company’s system.
Meanwhile, Bukovinac questioned whether the driver was following company policy.
“I find it hard to believe that the company that takes medical waste from abortion clinics would never put two and two together, that there are aborted human remains,” she said. “It’s absurd. What else would they have?”
But their story only got stranger from there.
The women went on to say that they kept the five largest fetuses in Handy’s home refrigerator for five days. During that time, they took photos of the fetuses while neither of them slept.
“We treated that place as if it was a tomb,” Handy said.
They also claimed that the remains of the 110 other fetuses were buried by a Catholic priest.
Handy and Bukovinac tried to get a medical provider to come to Handy’s home to inspect the fetuses, but no one came. Finally, they decided to call the police instead.
“The babies were in some kind of formaldehyde solution, but we didn’t know how long that would hold, or if her refrigerator was cold enough or whatever,” Bukovinac said. “We were just feeling a sense of urgency.”
The police say the investigation remains ongoing.
So far, neither woman has faced criminal charges for taking the box of fetal remains, but Handy was indicted last week on federal charges for blockading a D.C. abortion clinic in 2020.