Rape victim, activists, pastors gather in the cold to bury thousands of fetal remains 

It was a cold day in early February and cars lined the roads running through the graveyard. Around 200 people surrounded a tent in the middle of Southlawn Cemetery in South Bend, mourning the loss of the 2,411 aborted babies found on the late Dr. Ulrich Klopfer’s property.

During his time as an abortion practitioner, Klopfer performed at least 30,000 abortions at his facilities in Fort Wayne, Gary, and South Bend. It wasn’t until after his death on September 3, 2019 that Klopfer’s wife discovered over 2,200 fetal remains preserved in his garage and the trunk of one of his cars in Illinois.

Mystery surrounds why Klopfer stored their remains, and Klopfer himself raised questions about why he performed so many abortions. The late abortionist blamed his experiences in 1945, suffering the bombings of Dresden, for his negative perception of human beings, according to an article published by the Daily Caller. 

The state of Indiana sponsored a funeral and memorial service for the unborn on February 12 at 1 p.m, seeking to recognize the dignity of those whose remains were found on Klopfer’s property. The funeral was attended by a wide range of individuals: mothers with their children, middle aged men and women, and elderly couples were all in attendance. Reporters from various news outlets swarmed the scene.

 Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill presided over the state-sponsored funeral. He said there were indications that many of the remains on Klopfer’s property did not comply with the appropriate standard of when one could qualify for a legal abortion. 

When pressed on what he meant by the term “appropriate standard,” Hill stated that some of the remains were clearly late term, or at least beyond the first trimester. “There were some names, there were some dates of birth,” Hill said, “There was certain information that was clearly intended not to be accurate.”

Several representatives from local churches attended the ceremony and spoke on behalf of the aborted babies. Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, blessed the grave. Pastor John from United Methodists Church honored the 2,411 aborted babies with his guitar.  

As Pastor John led the assembly through “Amazing Grace” and “Jesus Loves Me,” many of those in attendance were misty-eyed. Some were openly crying. 

Adding to the high-emotions of the gathering, post-abortive mother Serena Dyksen opened up to the assembly about the trauma she experienced dealing with her post-abortion pain and regret. 

Dyksen was raped by her uncle and found pregnant at 13 years old. When her family discovered she was pregnant, they took her to Dr. Klopfer’s facility in South Bend, Indiana where she suffered an “excruciatingly painful” abortion at the hands of Klopfer. When she screamed out in pain during the procedure, Klopfer yelled at her to be quiet, Dyksen wrote in a letter

This experience was not abnormal treatment at Klopfer’s facilities. Klopfer had his medical license suspended in 2016 for various accusations of malpractice. Among the accusations were  lack of qualified staff present to oversee patients undergoing surgical abortion procedures, failure to report abortions performed on at least two 13-year-old patients, failure to maintain proper medical standards, failure to acquire informed and voluntary consent from at least seven patients at least 18 hours before their abortion procedures, and submitting over 1,800 Termination Reports with errors or omissions, according to the local news station WNDU.

As a previous patient at Klopfer’s facility, Dyksen said she felt “violated all over again” when she heard about the fetal remains found on Klopfer’s property, and wondered if her aborted baby was among those found. 

Speaking on behalf of post-abortive mothers and fathers, Dyksen advocated for post-abortive retreats to soothe the healing process and for an increased fight against the injustices of abortion.

“People have asked me what today means, and for me it’s another part of the healing process.” Dyksen continued, “As we move forward, I ask that you extend grace and love and reach the hearts of these [post-abortive] mothers…today we move forward in the hope that this does not happen again.”

Dr. Monica Miller, national director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, also called on the assembly to recommit themselves to the fight against abortion. Miller asked those in attendance not to let their pro-life witness and work end standing at a grave. Rather, she hoped funeral-attendees would be incentivized to fight more strenuously for the end of abortion.

“Let us not end our pro-life witness and our pro-life work standing at a grave,” Miller said, “but let this be our marching orders to go forward and end the injustice of abortion.”

Theresa is a junior studying political science and journalism. She’s the proud sister of ten crazy Irish Catholic siblings and can be reached at tolohan2@nd.edu.