Five fetuses were found in the home of an anti-abortion activist on Thursday after Washington, DC, police received a tip about a "bio-hazard material" at the home, the Metropolitan Police Department told BuzzFeed News.
The grisly discovery was made after the US Department of Justice announced federal charges against Lauren Handy and eight others in a 2020 incident where they allegedly forced their way into a reproductive health clinic in DC, barricaded themselves inside, and livestreamed it all on Facebook.
Police released few details of the discovery on Thursday, stating only that the fetuses were collected by the DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the investigation is ongoing.
A reporter for WUSA saw Handy outside the home as police were on scene and asked her what officers had found inside.
"People will freak out when they hear," she told him.
On Friday, an anti-abortion group associated with Handy, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, confirmed in a statement that one of the defendants from the federal criminal case "privately arranged" to notify D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department about the fetuses.
The group claimed the fetuses appeared to show injuries suggesting violations of the Partial Birth Abortion Act, which prohibits certain methods of abortion.
"These babies were given to police based on the suspicion of these violations," the statement read.
Public records show Handy has been arrested on multiple occasions on suspicion of various charges, including disorderly conduct.
According to the federal indictment, Handy and eight others plotted to get inside a DC clinic that provides abortions on Oct. 22, 2020, aiming to keep patients from being treated inside.
The nine defendants used force to get inside and carried tools with them to barricade themselves, including ropes and chains, in order to prevent patients from getting in, the indictment said.
Handy allegedly called the clinic days in advance, giving them a false name and making an appointment for 9 a.m. that day. Before the clinic opened, Handy then walked up to a receptionist outside, according to the indictment, and gave her false name for the appointment. In the meantime, one of the other defendants was starting a Facebook event titled "No one dies today" to stream the incident.
When the clinic doors opened, seven other defendants allegedly forced their way inside. One nurse fell and sprained her ankle while Handy and others blocked the doors, the indictment said.
According to the indictment, Handy directed the other defendants on what to do.
Handy is director of activism for a group called Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, which said in a statement that Handy was released just hours after her arrest Wednesday.
The group describes itself as a "progressive grassroots pro-life activists."
"We will not stop mobilizing against violence until every unjust law has been struck down," the group said in a Facebook post.
Terrisa Bukovinac, founder of the group, declined to speak to BuzzFeed News but referred a reporter to the organization's media contact, Randall Terry, a prominent anti-abortion activist who founded Operation Rescue, a fundamentalist Christian anti-abortion group.
Terry could be heard in the background passing his contact information to Bukovinac to give this reporter. When Terry answered the phone, he first spoke in an accent seemingly imitating the cartoon character "Speedy Gonzalez" and identified himself as "Jose Jimenez" before bursting into a laugh.
Terry referred to the clinic where Handy was arrested on Oct. 22, 2020, as an "abortion mill" and said the fetuses found in Handy's home were obtained from the same clinic.
The fetuses, however, were not obtained during the Oct. 22, 2020 incident, he said.
"On a different time, the babies were retrieved," he said. "There's a direct connection. We're going to lay out a timeline."
Terry declined to say when the group would provide more information, or to say if the five fetuses were the only ones obtained from the clinic.
Police did not answer questions about the origin of the fetuses, or if any other items were discovered in the home.
In her Facebook profile, Handy has made multiple anti-abortion posts and described actions that she and others have taken. In March, for example, she claimed she and other activists had gained access to the University of Washington's fetal organ labs and freezers.
Kristin Monahan, a member of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, said nothing was taken from the freezers during the group's activities at the University of Washington.