My Response to PAAU’s News Conference and Video

My Response to PAAU’s News Conference and Video April 6, 2022

This post comes with every possible content warning. I’m going to discuss PAAU’s press conference about the fetal remains found at Lauren Handy’s apartment, and I’m going to go into great detail.

The first thing we have to remember is that death is always a tragedy, particularly when it’s the death of children. Killing is always unspeakably wrong. As a Catholic, I will never think that abortion is anything other than wrong.

The second thing to remember is that in the face of evil, we have to choose to act in a way that helps, or at least doesn’t make things worse. We can’t just do something dramatic and ridiculous because we’re upset. Two wrongs don’t make a right. A wrong plus a circus that makes everything worse isn’t an improvement.

The third thing we have to remember is that sometimes procedures to remove a baby who has died in the womb, in order to prevent sepsis and bleeding in the mother, are the same procedures you’d use to abort a live baby. If you’re looking at a dead embryo or fetus, you can’t necessarily know why they were removed or whether they were killed.  You could be looking at a traumatic pregnancy loss that some mother desperately wanted to keep alive.

Now, with that said, I want to talk about the press conference.

You remember that last weekend I expressed my disgust with the media stunt put on by a group called Progressive Anti-Abortion uprising. PAAU promised that there would be a press conference, where they would identify the “whistle blower” who gave them the fetal remains whose photos were posted to the internet over the weekend. They also promised to give an explanation of how many dead babies had been recovered, where the other bodies were, where they came from, and so on. Today, they held that conference.

It turns out that there was no whistleblower. Either PAAU is changing their story, or they have a different definition to “whistleblower” than the common one. They claimed at the press conference that they walked up to a man transporting biohazard boxes to his truck to be burned by an energy company, when they were at the Washington Surgi-Center abortion clinic. They informed him that the box contained “dead babies,” and asked what would happen if they took the box. The driver looked horrified and let them take it. They brought it home and opened it, which is when they discovered that it was filled with a red biohazard bag containing 110 human fetuses, most in the first trimester. At the bottom of the bag, they found a second “clear plastic bag” containing plastic tubs which had much older human fetuses that looked to them to be victims of infanticide or illegal abortion techniques. They then spent “nearly three days looking for a private pathologist” to see if the older babies had indeed been killed in an illegal fashion. When that failed, they held a funeral Mass and a clandestine burial of the 110 smaller babies, saving the other five for later. They got a lawyer and tried to arrange to have the police investigate the five older bodies. To their surprise, the police didn’t come to take the bodies until after PAAU members were indicted for federal crimes, stemming from their 2020 blockading of the same abortion clinic. It was after that that the police came, the media arrived, and Lauren Handy’s name and face were all over the media for having, as we’ve all heard on the news 100 times by now, “five fetuses in her apartment.”

That’s the story that PAAU told. No, it doesn’t sound very credible, but let’s look at it piece by piece, along with the evidence  provided. And you should know that the company they claimed gave them the box, Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services, has stated that this absolutely did not happen. They say they got three boxes from the clinic that day, they did not hand off a box to anybody else, and anyway they are prohibited from disposing of fetuses or other human cadavers in that fashion. They seem to be cooperating with the police.

To support their claims, PAAU played a video of about five minutes at the press conference. It’s on Youtube now, but I don’t recommend you watch it because it becomes extremely disturbing very fast.

PAAU’s video begins with a photo of two boxes on a dolly, which subtitles said was outside the Washington Surgi-Clinic. Then they showed a separate photo of a Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services truck with the dolly not visible, and then a video of them opening an identical-looking box in what I presume is Lauren Handy’s kitchen– and when I say identical, I mean everything including the placement of the packing tape and the wrinkles and rips in the tape seem the exact same. So I am convinced that one of the boxes photographed on the dolly is the same as the box photographed in the kitchen. But there’s no time stamp, so I don’t know on what day or hour these photos and video were made. No address is visible in the picture of the boxes on the dolly, but the railing and the color of the building visible behind the box, as well as the yellow paint on the brick sidewalk, do look just like the ones in the photo of the building on Google Maps. PAAU did not provide a video of them speaking with the deliveryman and of him giving them permission to steal the box, or of them taking it, and these seem like glaring omissions to their story. It should be pretty easy to prove whether the conversation took place, because I would be shocked if the Washington Surgi-Clinic didn’t have security cameras that would show them conversing so close to the building. Time will tell.

The video then cuts to a room that is labeled “Lauren’s Apartment.” it shows someone in rubber gloves, presumably Lauren since you can see her scapular and medal dangling down, opening the cardboard box and cutting away a red biohazard bag to reveal a pile of bluish specimen containers. The biohazard bag doesn’t seem to be properly tied but to be tied off in rabbit ears like a trash bag to me, but maybe that’s just the angle of the video. Then the camera cuts to a still photo of the containers stacked on the counter with lumps that certainly look like fetuses in them. It later cuts to a photo of several larger specimen containers, not in “a clear plastic bag at the bottom of the box” but on the counter in a white garbage bag. There’s no proof they came in the same box and they look a little too big to fit, but that could be a problem of the camera angle. PAAU claims to have an additional video they’re going to post to the internet later, showing the larger babies also in the box. But they haven’t posted it yet as I’m writing this. So at the moment, at midnight Wednesday morning we can’t prove the bodies all came from the same place.

The next part of the video is extremely graphic and I don’t recommend you watch it. I did. We see “the five,” the larger babies who were not buried, being taken out of their containers and flashed at the camera. One of them is a completely intact infant who looks to be 30 weeks or so; he has his genitals prominent for an agonizingly long time before whoever edited the video photoshops a censor sign on him. At least they tried to censor the genitals, which Live Action did not when they showed photos of the same baby. The gloved hands in the video unfold the baby who is curled up in the fetal position; they poke and prod him as they move him around for a closer look. This baby is labeled “Christopher X” by the subtitles. There is also a baby, called “Harriet” in the subtitles, who appears to have anacephaly; her head is nearly flat, there’s no brain. Most babies with anacephaly die in the womb and have to be removed from the mother’s body. The gloved hands in the video poke and prod the baby’s head and neck, showing it off. There is a baby who is completely whole, en caul, with the bag of waters still intact. There is another baby who was dismembered, and they flash his or her severed head at the camera. Finally we get a title card “in memory” of the dead babies, displaying the names that PAAU chose for them.

PAAU claims that these five babies might be victims of infanticide or “partial birth abortion,” or dilation and extraction abortion, a procedure so grisly I’m not going to describe it here but you can look for it online if you wish. They themselves admit that this is just a guess. They want their deaths investigated. The police claim that there’s no evidence of that and they won’t be giving the bodies a post-mortem. I fully admit that sometimes police refuse to investigate when a crime really has been committed. But there’s no evidence that what PAAU says happened. In fact there seems to be evidence to the contrary: I can’t imagine a situation where a dilation and extraction abortion could somehow lead to a baby born en caul. The baby born completely whole with the placenta attached doesn’t look like they were subjected to a dilation and extraction either. Maybe he was. Maybe the one who looks like she has anacephaly was, but maybe not. There’s no evidence.

So what do we have?

We have dead children, which is an unspeakable tragedy and a nightmare beyond my ability to describe. May God rest their souls.

We have some photographic evidence that suggests some remains were being taken to be incinerated in a way they should not have been and then ended up in Lauren’s apartment. Maybe there’s another explanation for that evidence. Time will tell.

We have testimony that a deliveryman from Curtis Bay Medical Waste Services allowed two sidewalk counselors to make away with a box of biohazards after they spoke with him, but we don’t have evidence of that claim.

We do not have evidence that there were 110 first trimester fetuses in the red biohazard bag. The video doesn’t show us the exact number. It just shows a stack of containers. But there were a considerable number.

We do not have evidence that all the bodies in the video came from the same place, yet. There may be by the time you read this.

We do not have evidence that the babies were victims of a “partial birth abortion” or of infanticide.

We don’t even have sufficient evidence that the five older infants were killed by an induced abortion in the first place.

We have a group of enthusiastic young people who, by their own testimony, somehow obtained 115 human bodies. They examined the bodies and suspected that some had been the victims of crimes. They tampered and played with the bodies for a camera instead of just looking at them, contaminating the evidence and making it difficult or impossible for a proper criminal investigation of the cause of death to take place. They waited three days before notifying the authorities, instead choosing to search for their own pathologist. Then they buried 110 of the 115 bodies and told the police about what they had. After the police confiscated the five bodies and after they were splashed all over the news, a press conference was announced.

After the police got involved, and after the press conference was advertised and teased, with perfect timing, SOMEBODY leaked extremely graphic and disturbing photos of the youths meddling with the cadavers to social media.

And then the youths held the conference, where they again displayed the graphic and disturbing images. Randall Terry of Operation Rescue was there for some reason, taking potshots at atheists. The youths and Randall Terry seemed insulted that anyone would object to their behavior and acted like anyone who pointed out any problems with what they’d done was just a coward and a horrible person.

If there were crimes such as infanticide committed, that abortionist ought to have the book thrown at him. But these people have made it MUCH more difficult, if not impossible, that the crimes will be investigated and punished, because of the way they tampered with the evidence.

Meanwhile I have seen many, many people whose birth trauma or traumatic memories of abortion were triggered by the photos and videos the past several days, leading to terrible suffering.

I have seen many, many pro-choice people more convinced than ever that pro-lifers are ghoulish and insane.

I have seen no minds or hearts changed. None at all.

Graphic and disturbing attention-seeking media circuses don’t change people’s minds about abortion. If they did, they would have by now. We’ve had many.  They don’t work.

Graphic and disturbing attention-seeking media circuses do nothing to alleviate the reasons women seek abortion.

Playing with corpses in your kitchen will never stop abortions.

This is a tragic situation which will help no one.

This situation breaks my heart.


Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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