Lankford, Jordan, Colleagues Demand Investigation into Deaths of Five Babies Aborted in DC

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), lead Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Government Operations and Border Management with jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, sent a bicameral letter to Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chief of the DC Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee, and US Attorney General Merrick Garland after a truly gut-wrenching and gruesome report of five babies whose lives were taken through late-term abortion in Washington, DC, last week. 

Joining Lankford in sending the letter are Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mike Crapo (R-SD), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Lee (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Boozman (R-AR), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), Ralph Norman (R-SC), and Chris Smith (R-NJ). 

The letter demands an investigation into the deaths of the babies, including an autopsy since evidence suggests one or more of them may have lost their life through an illegal partial-birth abortion or may have been born alive and later killed. 

The Members wrote in their letter, “Last week, DC Metropolitan Police recovered the remains of five preborn children apparently from the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, DC, a facility operated by the late-term abortionist Dr. Cesare Santangelo. Instead of ensuring that the horrific deaths of these children were properly investigated, Metropolitan Police made the assumption that each child died as the result of a legal abortion. It is our understanding that Metropolitan Police made this assumption without conducting any medical evaluations. We also understand from press reports that the DC medical examiner does not plan to perform autopsies on the children. This is completely unacceptable.”

The Members continued, “These five children, like all children, have inherent value and deserved better than abortion—they deserved life. But at a minimum, they deserve to have their deaths investigated to ensure that no DC or federal laws were broken. In light of this information, we demand that a thorough investigation is conducted into the death of each child. In order to accomplish such investigation, we request and fully expect the city to conduct autopsies on the children and preserve all collected evidence. Finally, at the conclusion of such examinations, we urge the city to properly and respectfully bury the babies.”

Lankford is a leading voice in Congress for the protection of life, serving as chair of the Senate Values Action Team and a member of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus. Lankford continues to stand up for children of all ages and at all stages of development. In 2015, Lankford delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor about the Planned Parenthood video and their abortion practices to harvest body parts. Lankford blocked Planned Parenthood from receiving federal tax dollars in the fiscal year 2022 budget. Lankford has called on the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood, and he called for a complete investigation into the University of Pittsburgh’s abortion procedures and research.

He has introduced key pro-life legislation in the Senate, including the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act. Lankford has fought the Biden Administration tooth and nail as they try to “promote” unlimited abortions and most recently introduced two resolutions of disapproval against forcing taxpayers to pay for abortion. He raised his intense and complete opposition to Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) appalling, tone-deaf vote in February on the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which Lankford said is more accurately described as a bill to allow unlimited abortions on demand until birth.

Groups supporting the Members’ letter include: Live Action, Catholic Vote, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, March for Life, Students for Life Action, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, National Right to Life, and Americans United for Life. 

You can view the full text of the letter HERE and below:

Dear Mayor Bowser and Chief Contee: 

As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to conduct oversight over the District of Columbia (DC), to ensure DC upholds laws enacted by Congress, particularly those enacted to protect and uphold the sanctity of human life. 

Last week, DC Metropolitan Police recovered the remains of five preborn children apparently from the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, DC, a facility operated by the late-term abortionist Dr. Cesare Santangelo. Instead of ensuring that the horrific deaths of these children were properly investigated, Metropolitan Police made the assumption that each child died as the result of a legal abortion. It is our understanding that the Metropolitan Police made this assumption without conducting any medical evaluations. We also understand from press reports that the D.C. medical examiner does not plan to perform autopsies on the children. This is completely unacceptable.

While other horrific methods of abortion unfortunately remain legal for the time being, killing a child through a partial-birth abortion is a crime under federal law. Under the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, a partial-birth abortion occurs when a physician partially delivers a living child for the purpose of performing an overt act that intentionally takes the life of the child. The US Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortions in Gonzales v. Carhart in 2007.

Additionally, Congress passed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act to provide equal protections for children who are born alive during an abortion. If the bodies of other babies who were not aborted were recovered in a similar fashion, it would be hard to imagine the Metropolitan Police declining to conduct a thorough investigation into the death of each child. 

Based on evidence collected at the time of recovery and photos that have been publicly shared, all five of these children appear to have developed well past the point of viability, and likely suffered severely painful abortion procedures, though without an autopsy, it is not known how each child died. For example, one baby girl has significant damage to her head, with deep lacerations at the back of the neck, and may have been victim of an illegal partial birth abortion. Another baby was found in its amniotic sac and could have been born alive.  

These five children, like all children, have inherent value and deserved better than abortion – they deserved life. But at a minimum, they deserve to have their deaths investigated to ensure that no DC or federal laws were broken. 

In light of this information, we demand that a thorough investigation is conducted into the death of each child. In order to accomplish such investigation, we request and fully expect the city to conduct autopsies on the children and preserve all collected evidence. Finally, at the conclusion of such examinations, we urge the city to properly and respectfully bury the babies. 

Please respond to the following questions by close of business on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. 

1.      As you are aware partial-birth abortion, as defined in 18 US Code § 1531 is illegal and punishable by fine, imprisonment or both. How did the Metropolitan Police reach the conclusion while recovering the remains of each child that all of the children died as the result of a legal abortion?

2.      In order to ensure that no child was subjected to a partial birth abortion and that no child was born alive and left to die, will you commit to conducting a thorough investigation of the death of each child? 

3.      As part of such investigation, will you commit to ensuring the preservation of each child’s remains for appropriate examination during the investigation?

4.      Will you direct the Chief Medical Examiner to perform an autopsy on each child to determine the method and cause of death in accordance with § 5–1405 of DC Code?

5.      Will you direct a subsequent autopsy to be completed by an independent, licensed pathologist to confirm the findings of the Chief Medical Examiner? 

6.      If an autopsy suggests any of the children were victims of criminal activity, will you immediately refer the evidence to both the Department of Justice and the Attorney General for the District of Columbia for criminal prosecution?

7.      Will you commit to properly and respectfully burying each child?

Sincerely,

CC: Attorney General Merrick Garland