Penny Starr | Senior Staff Writer | Friday, March 14, 2008
"I was aware of the reality of abortion, but it was unnerving," Police Sgt. Vincent Lynch said of viewing the evidence, adding that "intact fetuses" were among the debris.
The clinic, in Lathrup Village, and several others in the Detroit area, are owned by Dr. Alberto Hodari, a controversial abortionist who was caught on videotape late last year telling medical students that doctors have "a license to lie," as reported by Cybercast News Service, and who has been outspoken about his opposition to a ban on partial-birth abortion.
At least one patient died - a 15-year-old girl in 2004 - following an abortion at one of Hodari's clinics, but no criminal charges were filed.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will decide if the improper disposal of "pathological waste" at the Lathrup Village clinic violates civil or administrative statues, according to Robert McCann, press secretary for the state agency.
Because this kind of disposal is not considered criminal, Hodari could receive a warning or be fined, depending on the results of the investigation, McCann said.
Lynch said he is meeting next week with the Oakland County prosecutor's office to determine whether the county will bring criminal charges against Hodari for improperly disposing of medical records, which is a misdemeanor under state law and punishable by a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.
Monica Migliorino Miller, professor of sacred theology at St. Mary's College of Madonna University, Orchard Lake, Mich., and founder and director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society, said she and other pro-life activists had been monitoring the trash receptacles at the Lathrup Village clinic and two other clinics between Feb. 8 and March 2.
Medical waste and patient records were found at all three sites, but when the police and DEQ officials found human remains in the Lathrup Village dumpster, the investigation was launched.
"My ultimate hope is that (Hodari's) license is revoked and his practice shut down," Miller told Cybercast News Service. "And being a pro-life activist, I hope we can get exposure about what happens in the abortion business."
Hodari did not return repeated calls to his Lathrup Village clinic requesting an interview.
Miller and other activists transported contents from dumpsters to her home where they sorted and videotaped the content of black plastics bags, which included syringes, bloody suction canulas, condoms, plastic gloves and human arms, spinal columns and fully-formed hands the size of a ballpoint pen tip. (The video, which is graphic, is posted on YouTube.com.)
The case has raised questions about laws concerning medical waste and proper procedure when pathological waste is put in an open trash container.
"It's been terrible," Lynch said. "Michigan laws are truly inadequate in this regard."
He said he is frustrated that misdemeanor charges for the patient records is the only charge that can be levied, particularly in light of the public health risk the dumpster content could have posed.
"Animals could go in there and drag that stuff around," Lynch said, adding that the clinic is next to a residential area. "And the guy at the landfill or the rodents or whatever that go to the landfill. I don't know how long viruses or whatever can live, but if it rains and there is runoff, it could contaminate the ground water."
Proper disposal of medical waste requires specially designed and marked red containers and collection by companies with personnel trained to handle potentially toxic materials.
Lynch said no forensic work was done on the tissue or blood found in the dumpster.
"Was there testing done?" he said. "No."
The DEQ photographed the dumpster's contents and police documented the evidence. The human remains were then released to Miller, who has given them to a local funeral home where they will be buried after the investigation and possible legal action are complete.
Since the late 1980s, Miller has helped bury thousands of aborted babies.
She said she marks the tombstones of the common graves with the words, "Holy Innocents of God," includes the date the remains of the unborn were recovered, and includes a verse from the Bible from the book of Jeremiah, The Lord says, 'A sound is heard in Ramah, a sound of crying in bitter grief. It is the sound of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are gone.'"
Pro-life activists who heard about the Michigan case told Cybercast News Service that they are not surprised by the dumpster discovery.
"The only difference between Hodari and the typical abortion provider is that Hodari got caught," said Mark Crutcher, founder and president of Life Dynamics.
"This outrageous behavior is what we've found is typical of many abortion clinics," Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said, adding that abortion clinics don't attract the best and brightest in the medical field.
"Abortion by its very nature draws the lowest of the low to this kind of medicine," he said. "The fine doctors have life-saving, not life-ending practices."
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