An Open Letter
September 22, 2019
Dear Father Jenkins,
In recent days, the shocking news of 2,246 preserved human fetal remains found in the Illinois garage of the deceased abortionist Ulrich Klopfer has drawn national attention. Local, State, and Federal officials have called for an investigation of the findings. We now know that the 70 boxes storing the babies were dated 2000-2002. More shocking for many of us in the Notre Dame family is the likelihood that Klopfer aborted many of these babies at his clinic in South Bend. For several decades, his Women’s Pavilion operated at Ironwood Circle, one mile from Our Lady’s campus. According to a 2016 State of Indiana report, Klopfer was the state’s most prolific abortionist in history. He started operations in South Bend in 1978 and later opened clinics in Gary and Fort Wayne. News indicate Klopfer performed tens of thousands of abortions at these three clinics.
In the South Bend area, there are eight college campuses with a total student population of over 28,000. Based on Guttmacher Institute data and college studies for a population of this size, there would be approximately 500-600 unplanned pregnancies, resulting in 250-300 abortions annually. Klopfer’s Women’s Pavilion was the only abortion clinic in South Bend and, at its height, reportedly conducted over 700 abortions per year. So 35% to 40% of Klopfer’s abortions were likely performed for local area college students, including some from Notre Dame. Klopfer’s South Bend clinic was shut down in 2016. In its place, Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend, though denied a license by the Indiana Department of Health, was allowed to open and operate in June 2019 by order of a federal judge.
These horrific revelations are a wake-up call for all of us in the Notre Dame family. We must consider what our University, Mary’s University, can do to provide an alternative to abortion for college students facing unplanned pregnancies.
In August 2009, I wrote to you asking you to establish a residential facility for pregnant college women and their children at Notre Dame. On October 6, 2009, you responded by letter saying that you would assign a task force to study the idea, but you never let me know what the task force concluded.
I would like to renew my request, urging you to consider such a facility at Notre Dame. The estimated 500-600 local college students facing unplanned pregnancies each year need to know that they have a better option than abortion to complete their college educations and succeed in their careers.
Such a place already exists and has been successfully operating for six years at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. In those six years, this on-campus maternity residence has saved dozens of children from abortion. Surely, Notre Dame, with its vast property holdings, could find a quiet corner of the campus for such a residence. Alumni would gladly contribute to the construction and operation of the facility. I am confident that this would be a cause that many have been waiting to “fight for.” The solution for protecting unexpected lives from abortion is a facility open not just to Notre Dame students but to students of any faith enrolled at any local college.
As Catholics, we believe unequivocally that human life begins at conception and that abortion means death for an unborn child. Is it not time for our University and our vast family of graduates to put our treasure where our beliefs are and establish a caring alternative to abortion?
You see, Father, in 1999 as a Notre Dame senior, I experienced an unplanned pregnancy and I chose life for my daughter. She is now a student at another Catholic university and is an active pro-life advocate. So please understand that I must be persistent with this request because I understand the uncertainty and pressures that college students facing crisis pregnancies experience – feelings that without an alternative compel many to go to Klopfer-like clinics.
For the sake of these women and men and their unborn children, I ask that you please give serious consideration to this updated request.
In Notre Dame,
Lacy Dodd Miske
ND Class of 1999
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