On Thursday, April 7, I drove downtown in the rain to an abortion clinic run by Dr. Cesare Santangelo, an abortionist accused of using gruesome techniques to end the lives of unborn babies.
I can’t stop thinking about what I saw.
I have been asking officials for answers and explanations all week — the D.C. Medical Examiner, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Metropolitan Police Department, Washington Surgi-Clinic, Curtis Bay Medical Waste Facility, Planned Parenthood Baltimore City Center, the Department of Health and Human Services.
But no one will address why a box, allegedly containing 110 pulverized 1st-trimester babies and five premie-sized babies, was about to be sent from Washington Surgi-Clinic to Curtis Bay Medical Waste Facility (a facility that continues to insist to me, ignoring photographs of its labeling on the box of aborted babies, that it does not burn fetal remains).
Officials have said that autopsies will not be performed. Authorities will not address whether the five babies were alive when they were extracted.
The only interest that D.C. officials have seemingly shown in this matter is whether members of a pro-life group, the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), committed a crime when they took a box of aborted fetal remains from a dolly outside Washington Surgi-Clinic.
PAAU told me that they asked the driver of a Curtis Bay Medical Waste truck if they could take the box to give the babies a proper funeral, and that he agreed, noting that he had already scanned the box into the system and its disappearance would likely go unnoticed.
Live Action photographed these five babies. Pro-life medical professionals and experts who examined the photographs estimated that they were in the end of the 2nd trimester or in the 3rd trimester when they were aborted. (Warning: Posts contain graphic and disturbing images.)
This week, GOP lawmakers called on Mayor Bowser and the Department of Justice to investigate the abortions of the five babies and “to preserve all of the children’s remains as evidence and conduct autopsies.”
And yet, D.C. officials remain silent.
Then came Thursday morning.
Frustrated with the lack of responses, I drove to abortionist Dr. Cesare Santangelo’s million-dollar home. When no one answered the door, I drove to his abortion clinic, located on the fourth floor of a Foggy Bottom office building near George Washington University.
He’s practiced in Washington Surgi-Clinic for decades, despite multiple complaints of medical malpractice and allegations that he uses gruesome abortion techniques and allows babies to die after surviving abortions.
One lawsuit accused him of bungling the removal of a baby so badly that fetal debris ended up in the lungs of the mother, who died.
I noticed a sign on the door of the clinic warning visitors that they would be turned away without a mask. Hesitant to go in without one, I paused for a moment to search my purse, and at that moment, a young woman emerged from the clinic followed by a man whom I believed to be her boyfriend.
She looked stressed, but I was focused on talking to Santangelo, so I went inside and asked the girl behind the desk for a mask.
She was friendly, asking as she handed me a mask, “Do you have an appointment?”
“No,” I told her. I recognized her voice from the many times I had called the clinic. “I’m looking for Dr. Santangelo. I think you and I chatted on the phone earlier. I’m a reporter with The Daily Wire and I have some questions for him. I’d love to talk to you, too!”
Her face immediately changed. “He’s not here right now,” she said.
“I don’t think that’s true,” I told her, glancing around at the waiting room full of patients.
But the clinic worker insisted that she could tell me nothing and that all press inquiries must go through the National Abortion Federation, which is handling the abortion clinic’s publicity amid scrutiny (they also have not responded to my many requests for comment).
A second woman who worked at the clinic came out of her office and firmly told me that they would not give me any answers. They both seemed worried about what I would say in front of the patients gathered in the waiting room.
I reminded the clinic workers that the Metropolitan Police Department, Republican senators, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are all involved in the happenings of the last few weeks.
If the clinic and Santangelo had done nothing wrong, sharing their perspective with media could only help, I offered.
They refused to tell me anything, and so I left.
But the young woman who was leaving when I walked in the door was still in the hallway. She appeared to be in great distress, leaning on the wall, heaving and moaning.
The man with her looked up when I came out, and I could see pain and anxiety written all over his face. His eyes were red. I briefly wondered if he would be angry with me if I spoke to the woman.
“Is everything okay?” I asked, taken aback.
The woman nodded and attempted to smile at me, straightening up. She was very pregnant; I believe she was in her second trimester.
I asked her what she was doing at the clinic, and she told me, “I’m here for an abortion.”
In confusion, I looked at her rounded stomach, protruding firmly from her t-shirt.
“Did you already get it?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “It’s happening right now.”
“Right now?” I repeated, glancing back and forth between the couple as the mother leaned with one hand on the wall, clearly in pain.
“They took the tubes out,” she responded breathlessly. She was writhing in pain.
I immediately understood her to mean laminaria sticks, often made out of seaweed, which abortionists use to dilate a woman’s cervix.
Dr. Ingrid Skop, senior fellow and director of medical affairs at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, tells me that the laminaria absorbs the water from the cervix and helps the cervix to dilate, making it easier for the abortionist to “reach in” to the uterus “blindly with surgical instruments and remove the baby in a piecemeal fashion” in a dilation and evacuation dismemberment abortion.
Former abortionist Kathi Aultman, now an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told me it’s likely that the young woman I encountered would be heading into an induction abortion since she was in the hallway.
If she were going to be having a dilation and evacuation abortion, Aultman said, the doctor would take the laminaria out at the beginning of the procedure while she was in the stirrups.
In such an induction abortion, the doctor usually injects the baby with digoxin or potassium chloride when he puts the laminaria in, then waits a day or two for the baby to die before inducing the abortion. But the baby does not always die, Aultman told me, and if the doctor does not reach in and cut the umbilical cord before the baby is induced, that baby can be born alive.
Since I have become all too familiar with these types of procedures over the past few days, the thought that the young woman I saw was about to undergo these types of abortions flashed through my mind as I stood there in the hallway.
I also thought of the recordings I had just carefully watched, purportedly showing Santangelo admitting that he has had patients who still delivered their babies after the abortionist inserted the laminaria to dilate them.
“They got some contractions and they panicked, and they were in Virginia at the hospital, they went to the hospital, because they had some pain, instead of calling me,” he said in recordings taken by an undercover Live Action activist. “And the hospital helped them to deliver. Which was the stupidest thing they could have done.”
As I stood there in the doorway, before I had an opportunity to speak to the young woman or even process what was going on, the abortion clinic worker stuck her head out of the door.
“Don’t talk to her!” she yelled at the woman and man beside me. “Come inside. Come inside.”
“She doesn’t want you to talk to me because I’m a reporter,” I told the couple. They did not seem too concerned about this, but as the woman continued to order them inside, shouting over me, they began to go.
I urged them to reach out to me through The Daily Wire if they wanted to talk. The woman nodded, and the door closed behind them. I stood in the hallway a moment, bewildered by the brief interaction.
Then I got in the elevator and went down to the lobby and out into the rain, overcome by the thought that the woman upstairs, in so much pain and distress, was aborting her unborn baby.
And that the abortionist ending the life of her baby does so while D.C. officials go about their business, ignoring questions and calls for action from lawmakers, activists, and press, hoping this messy little abortion situation will go away without making any more trouble.
I ran through the brief conversation with the woman at the clinic in my head, wondering what I should have said, whether I should have asked her if she actually wanted to go through with it. I called a friend and broke down, crying. I then called my editor, who was also shaken by the story, came home, and sat down to write.
Pro-life activists like the Progressive Anti Abortion Uprising believe that Santangelo has been allowing living babies born alive through his botched abortions to die in his clinic, suggesting he is violating the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which prohibits physicians from performing partial-birth abortions except when the mother’s life is in danger, and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.
Their claims stem in part from undercover videos in which Live Action recorded Santangelo discussing how he would allow babies to die if they were accidentally delivered during abortions.
In the Live Action video, Santangelo is shown telling a woman (the Live Action investigator), who is 24 weeks pregnant, that her baby is the size of her hand and that he hoped to get the baby out “intact,” noting that “it doesn’t always happen that way.”
“I cut the umbilical cord first, wait for the baby to expire, and then we do it that way,” he says in the video.
The Live Action investigator asked Santangelo a leading question about whether the baby might “move” if it were born alive, prompting the abortionist to explain again, “That’s why I try and sever the umbilical cord first, and we wait for that to stop pulsing, and this way the fetus is expired first, so it doesn’t.”
“Has it ever survived?” asked the Live Action investigator. Santangelo told her “no, not here,” but noted “usually at this point in your pregnancy it is too early to survive, usually, it will expire shortly after birth.”
“But if it did, what would happen,” the investigator asked. “Like, would I have to take it home, or like —”
“I mean technically, legally, we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive,” he responded. “But you know, it probably wouldn’t. It’s all in how vigorously you do things to help a fetus survive at this point.”
“When you have a pregnancy that is 23, 24 weeks … if you do everything possible to help it survive, there’s a maybe a 20-30% chance that it would survive,” he said. “If you don’t do anything then, you know, the chances are much, much less.”
“There are things you can do” to make sure the baby does not survive, he added.
“Obviously, you’re here for a certain procedure, and if your pregnancy were — let’s say you went into labor, the membranes ruptured, and you delivered before we got to the termination of the procedure here,” he explained. “Then we would do things, we would not help it.”
“We wouldn’t intubate, let’s say,” he explained, noting that he “wouldn’t do any extra,” comparing letting the baby die to letting a terminal person die. “Like a ‘do not resuscitate’ order,” he added.
Santangelo noted that if the mother were in a hospital in Virginia and went into labor and medical professionals saw her deliver her baby, they would do everything to help her baby survive.
“But you won’t?” the mother questioned.
“We wouldn’t here,” he answered.
“That’s happened before,” Santangelo noted. “We’ve had patients that, you know, on the second day of the laminaria, they got some contractions and they panicked, and they were in Virginia at the hospital, they went to the hospital, because they had some pain, instead of calling me.”
“And the hospital helped them to deliver,” he continued. “Which was the stupidest thing they could have done … and they did everything they [inaudible] have done, which was help them to deliver.”
Washington Surgi-Clinic would not discuss this with me over email or in person.
MPD would not comment on Santangelo or his past comments, citing “the ongoing nature of this investigation.”
“Nothing Will Be Done”
Not everyone is afraid to speak on this matter. I’ve spoken with lawmakers as well as pro-life activists.
Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy told me Wednesday that ideologically-motivated D.C. officials are unlikely to do anything about the discovery of the baby bodies.
“These children were murdered by abortion,” he continued. “Some of them, it appears, were killed outside the already too-permissive bounds of the law. Unfortunately, we know that nothing will be done.”
“Unsurprisingly,” he added, “D.C. has already announced that it would not perform autopsies to see if any of the children in question were murdered outside of the womb — a violation of The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.”
I have repeatedly asked the D.C. Medical Examiner and Bowser’s office to address why autopsies will not be performed, as The Washington Post reported.
According to Aultman, who reviewed photographs of the aborted babies, “Baby Girl #1” was aborted in either the late 2nd or early 3rd trimester and likely had a decent chance at survival at her gestational age and size.
Live Action posted photographs of “Baby Girl #1” on Twitter. (Warning: Posts contain graphic and disturbing images.)
“She has some bruising of the face and some maceration of the skin, which could be consistent with death prior to the abortion,” Aultman explained. “She appears intact and completely normal except for trauma to the neck, possibly from traction applied during the attempt to deliver the head.”
“There appears to be an incision at the base of the skull, and the head has been decompressed by removing the brain,” Alutmann continued. “This is consistent with an Intact [dilation and evacuation] or [dilation and extraction]. If the baby was alive at the start of this procedure, it would be considered a Partial Birth Abortion and would be illegal.”
Dr. Kendra Kolb, a neonatologist, also agreed that Baby Girl #1 appears to be between 28-30 weeks, noting “evidence of deep lacerations to the posterior neck which presumably correlates to the method of abortion used to end her life.”
“Baby Girl #2” was in the second trimester and was dismembered through a dilation and evacuation dismemberment abortion, both Aultman and Kolb agreed.
“She has evidence of both dismemberment of her upper extremity, decapitation, and organ evisceration as the result of this unimaginably brutal procedure,” said Kolb.
Live Action also posted photographs of “Baby Girl #2” on Twitter. (Warning: Posts contain graphic and disturbing images.)
“Her head has been crushed or possibly decompressed using suction inserted through an incision in the skull,” Aultman said. “Her skin is macerated, and her tissues appear grey, consistent with death prior to the abortion. She appears completely normal and was aborted using the [dilation and evacuation] technique, also known as dismemberment abortion.”
Lauren Handy and Terrisa Bukovinac, both members of PAAU, told me this week that they believe that Santangelo has a history of “sloppy,” “cheap” abortions.
Bukovinac described opening a large bucket and discovering “Baby Boy #1,” who PAAU named Christopher X, “a beautiful 30+ week baby boy with hair on his head.” She believes that he was most likely born alive.
“We’ve long known Santangelo is too cheap to use feticide and the chances of a baby this advanced in gestational age being delivered whole without the use of feticide is extremely high,” she explained.
Handy said that another one of the babies injuries are “consistent with what we’d expect from a partial-birth abortion which is a federal crime.”
“Santangelo has a history of being sloppy, facing wrongful death lawsuits, and ignoring the law,” she said.