Five sets of human fetal remains were recovered from the Washington DC home of an anti-abortion activist after a raid, the capital’s Metropolitan police department confirmed to the Guardian on Thursday.
The activist, a woman named Lauren Handy, 28, is a leader of the group Progressive Anti-Abortion uprising (PAAU) and has described herself as a “Catholic anarchist” in the past.
Local television station WUSA9 reported remains were carried out in red biohazard bags on Wednesday. Handy’s only comment at the time was: “People will freak out when they hear.”
Authorities have not disclosed the source of the fetal remains. Handy also claimed on Twitter to be inspired to “liberate” fetal remains “from med [sic] waste companies and give them a proper burial”.
Although Handy recently claimed to have “gained access” to a fetal tissue and organ bank at the University of Washington in Seattle, the university said its cold storage area was locked and nothing was taken. Handy was separately indicted on Wednesday for forcing entry into a Washington DC abortion clinic in 2020 October.
“On March 9th myself & [sic] fellow activists gained access to University of Washington’s fetal organ labs & freezers,” Handy claimed on Twitter on 23 March. She also retweeted pictures posted by PAAU that show the contents of a cold room at the University of Washington.
The university cold room contained brown bags, in which donated fetal remains dating back to the 1960s were stored inside new containers. The university said the remains were there as they were in the process of completing regulatory steps, “so that the respectful cremation can occur”.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors indicted Handy on charges of blockading a Washington DC abortion clinic, where she allegedly claimed to be a patient to gain entry. She and eight co-defendants could face up to 11 years in prison and $350,000 in fines if found guilty.