UPDATE: ACLJ Blocks DOJ and DC Officials’ Attempt To Destroy Evidence of Potential Infanticide and Illegal Partial-Birth Abortions of DC5


Nathan Moelker

February 7

5 min read

Pro Life



We are incredibly disturbed that the DOJ and D.C. officials may be working together to destroy evidence of potential infanticide and illegal partial-birth abortions that could have been committed by a known late-term abortionist after the bodies of five babies were discovered.

The ACLJ has just taken legal action in D.C. to defend the sanctity of life and preserve the dignity of the unborn. For over 30 years, the ACLJ has been at the forefront of the fight for the sanctity of life across the country, representing pro-life groups and individuals as they seek to defend the unborn. Although we will be forever thankful for our victory in Dobbs and the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of Roe, the battle for life continues unabated in the states. Yesterday we took immediate action to defend the dignity of the unborn in D.C.

In March 2022, the bodies of five pre-term babies were discovered by the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. These children were apparently from the Washington Surgi-Clinic in Washington, D.C., a facility operated by the late-term abortionist Cesare Santangelo. Instead of ensuring that the horrific deaths of these children were properly investigated, the police made the assumption that each child died as a result of a legal abortion. They made this assumption without conducting any medical evaluations or autopsies whatsoever. In fact, some doctors have examined pictures of these babies and found evidence that would support the conclusion that these children were killed through illegal and egregious partial-birth abortions.

Following the discovery of these babies’ bodies, Members of Congress sent letters to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chief of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee, and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, demanding an investigation into their deaths. The letter to Mayor Bowser and Chief Contee demanded that the city conduct autopsies and, after conducting proper examinations, properly and respectfully bury the babies. In response, the Mayor sent a letter stating that the pro-life advocates who discovered the babies would be prosecuted for their activity, without indicating that any action would be taken regarding the babies themselves or any crimes that may have been committed against those babies.

For two years, and despite the fact that D.C. law requires medical autopsies after mysterious deaths, nothing has been done to examine these babies, determine their cause of death, or provide them with a proper burial. Now, the lawyer for the pro-life advocates who originally discovered the babies revealed publicly that the Department of Justice has advised the Medical Examiner to, rather than investigate these babies to determine what happened, destroy these babies’ bodies by cremation. And the Office of the Medical Examiner has determined to do just that. Rather than pursue justice or investigate what occurred, it ordered that these babies be destroyed at the end of the week.

We took action in two key ways:

  • First, we represented Reverend Patrick Mahoney and sent a letter on his behalf to the D.C. Office of the Medical Examiner. Reverend Mahoney and his wife have volunteered to take custody of these babies’ bodies so that they are given a proper funeral and burial. We represented Reverend Mahoney with a legal letter exercising a provision of D.C. law allowing for proper burial when next of kin is unknown, seeking permission for him and his wife to be able to take the babies home and properly mourn them through a funeral that honors their memory.

  • Second, we joined with allies at the Susan B. Anthony List and other pro-life organizations to send a letter to Congress, urging that action be taken to protect these dead babies’ bodies from destruction and to investigate and provide accountability regarding the possible infanticide and partial-birth abortions that occurred. We spoke with staff for Texas Congressman Chip Roy, and he has also acted, as part of his role as chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, to seek accountability for what happened.

We acted immediately, as we have only a few days before the Medical Examiner is planning to destroy these babies. We need your continued prayer and support as we continue to seek to protect the cause of life. There are two crucial things that need to happen here. First, justice requires accountability for what may have happened to these babies. When babies are killed in unspeakable, illegal ways, what happened to them should not be hidden or swept under the rug but be publicly acknowledged. At the very least, an investigation is necessary to determine whether these babies were killed illegally. Second, these babies need the respect and dignity that will occur through a proper burial and loving funeral. They should not be disposed of as objects but given a proper funeral in accordance with their human dignity.

UPDATE 02.09.2024: The ACLJ was preparing to file an emergency writ of mandamus on behalf of our client to force D.C. officials to follow the law and allow for the proper burial of these babies. We contacted D.C. one final time in an attempt to resolve this issue and delay action on the disposition of the remains of these babies before we filed our lawsuit. We have just received assurances that the D.C. government is standing down from today’s cremation. What this means is that we were successful in preventing the Biden DOJ and D.C. from destroying the evidence of potential crimes and from simultaneously blocking the honoring of these young lives with a proper burial. The D.C. government also indicated to us that they will respond to Congress’ demands. We continue to hope that D.C. will in fact conduct a formal investigation into these babies’ deaths.