Many words have been used to describe the discovery of 2,246 aborted fetal remains in the home of Indiana’s most prolific abortion doctor. “Disturbing,” “sickening,” “shocking,” and “horrific” are just a few. Maybe even more unsettling, Ulrich “George” Klopfer died before he could ever explain why he did it.
Authorities were notified of the discovered fetal remains on Sept. 12, 2019, shortly after his death on Sept. 3. His wife found them in their home garage in Crete, Illinois. On Oct. 9, another 165 fetal remains were found in one of his cars bringing the total to 2,411.
When the news of the fetal remains collection surfaced, former patients, associates, and lawmakers came out to publicly share experiences they had with the doctor.
Jessica Bowen, who got an abortion from Klopfer’s Fort Wayne clinic in 2013 at age 18, vividly remembers her encounter.
“It was excruciating,” she said. “It was so painful.”
She was already feeling anxious about her decision to get an abortion, but Klopfer’s bedside manner she didn’t see coming.
“I begged him and asked to stop,” Bowen continued. “I started screaming and crying and I said, ‘please stop, I don’t want to do this anymore,’ and he looked at the nurse and told her to keep me quiet because I was going to scare the other patients.”
She said the nurse then covered her mouth.
“At one point I was crying and screaming because of the pain and the trauma and he told me to shut up and stop crying,” said Abby Whitt, who went to Klopfer’s South Bend clinic in 2013 at the age of 18. “I just remember being scared of him. I don’t think he cared about the patients at all.”
Kelly Bowker, who underwent an abortion from Klopfer at 17-years-old, was also surprised by his demeanor.
“He was very quick about it,” she said of her 1992 procedure visit in Fort Wayne. “He didn’t want to know your name. He didn’t want to offer any kind of advice or council. He just came in, did what he wanted to do, and then he left.”
Serena Dyksen said after being raped by someone close to her, she had an abortion appointment at Klopfer’s South Bend clinic at just 13-years-old.
“I was so weak,” she said of her state after the abortion procedure. “When I stood up blood just went everywhere. So My dad had to carry me out. I was so weak and I was so busted, and I was 13.”
She said she was traumatized by the experience.
“It was a horrible, horrible pain,” she continued. “He yelled at me because I was yelling in pain and there was just no care, no compassion at all. He was just a very nasty man. Even afterwards when I went to recover I ended up hemorrhaging everywhere and he never came back in to even check on me. He just sent me home.”
In one of the most tragic stories, Klopfer left pieces of fetus inside a patient who was about 20-years-old. Her name remains anonymous. She would’ve died, if not for a doctor in town that performed an emergency procedure on her. Geoff Cly testified before the Indiana state senate about his life-saving procedure and would eventually commit to being Klopfer’s emergency backup doctor for the sake of helping women such as this one.
“She was so sick and her uterus was so infected with bacteria with pieces of the tissue of baby left inside that the antibiotics didn’t work,” Cly explained. “We had to do surgery eventually and we had to take her uterus out. So this young woman could never have children anymore. So I was as a doctor, I was upset.”
Klopfer’s careless actions did eventually catch up with him. His Indiana medical license was suspended in 2016. Reasons cited were failing to ensure that qualified staff were present when patients received and/or recovered from Lidocaine (anesthetic) and Stadol (pain reliever) medications prior to and during abortion procedures; failing to document in patients’ medical records that information and counseling was provided to patients at least 18 hours prior to an abortion procedure being performed; failing to submit termination of pregnancy reports within three days after performing an abortion on at least two 13-year-old patients; and inability to exercise reasonable care in providing abortion services.
Over his multi-decade career in Indiana, Klopfer had practices in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Gary. He was said to have performed anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 abortions in total. He started in Illinois in the 1970’s before eventually working in Indiana. While he worked in Indiana traveling between his three clinics, he still had a home in Crete, Illinois.
Prior to his medical license suspension by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana in Aug. 2016, Klopfer had already stopped practicing at his three clinics.
He stopped in Fort Wayne in Jan. 2014 when he lost Cly as his backup doctor, whom he needed to meet Allen county’s law that required a physician always be available within the county or in a neighboring county to provide emergency care to post-abortion patients.
Cly said he left the role when he heard that Klopfer performed an abortion on a 13-year-old without reporting the abortion to authorities, when child abuse is always a consideration for girls that young who get pregnant.
In May 2015, Klopfer surrendered the operating license for his Gary clinic in the face of a misdemeanor charge of failing to timely file a public report for that 13-year-old girl.
In November 2015, he stopped performing abortions in South Bend in light of legal opposition putting him under fire for neglecting the 18-hour informed consent law, which required that abortion doctors give patients face-to-face counseling about the procedure at least 18-hours beforehand.
The Fetal Remains Collection
Even with all the legal trouble Klopfer found himself in, no one knew the chilling secret he would take to his grave. Klopfer died on Sept. 3, 2019 at the age of 79. As his wife went through his belongings, she discovered 2,246 aborted fetal remains in the garage at their home in Crete, Illinois. The remains were in bags preserved in fluid. Authorities say there were 70 boxes full of the remains stacked from floor to ceiling.
Once the news came out, his former patients had a range of deep emotions.
Rachel Kelly immediately had flashbacks to her 22-year-old self going to see Klopfer for her abortion.
“I saw Klopfer’s face on T.V. and it just all came back,” she said. “I never thought I’d see his face again. Then I saw about the babies in his garage and I just had this very vivid flashback of him looking me in the eyes that day and I thought oh my gosh, did you take it home? Why did you do this and what kind of person are you?”
Whitt felt similar sentiments.
“Just instantly I thought, ‘oh my gosh, what if one of those babies is mine?'” she recalled. “It was like a wound was ripped back open, like I had to go through that pain again. It was like it had happened yesterday. Just why? Why the need to take them to his house? Just why?”
“I was shocked,” said Bowker. “It broke my heart. And I did cry. I cried for two weeks and I didn’t know where to go and I was emailing every organization that was in the paper.”
“All these thoughts were going through my head, like what if one of them was mine, like what would I do?” Bowen asked.
Endless questions surfaced for his patients and the public. Why did Klopfer keep the fetal remains? What would be done with them now? Who did they belong to? What does justice look like with Klopfer being dead?
As the mystery surrounding the doctor grew, the masses wondered who he was. The little known about him starts in Europe.
“I had heard about Dresden, and what I found out was that it was all true,” began filmmaker Mark Archer who had heard rumors of Klopfer’s origins.
He and his wife Amber Archer of Fearless Pictures are producing a documentary about Klopfer called Inwood Drive. The title is based off the street where Klopfer’s Fort Wayne clinic was before it was closed down.
Klopfer agreed to sit down with the Archer’s in October 2018 for an interview for the documentary which comes out in 2020.
He began telling the filmmakers about his life from the beginning when he survived one of World War II’s most deadly episodes.
“In 1945, I was with my aunt in the suburbs of Dresden,” he said. “In February of 1945, between the Americans and the English, they firebombed Dresden for three days and two nights. The death toll varies depending upon who you want to believe. The Allies say it was forty to fifty thousand. The Germans said somewhere around a hundred thousand, the German government at that time said it was a hundred-and-fifty thousand.”
Allied forces conducted bombing raids on the town located in Eastern Germany from Feb. 13 to Feb. 15. More than 1,200 heavy bombers dropped nearly 4,000 tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs.
Klopfer described how his hometown was left destroyed in smoldering ruins and in the aftermath, his outlook on humanity was scarred.
“The effects of the war may have probably not have had a positive effect on my perception, okay? Of human beings, what they do to each other,” he told the Archers.
Klopfer was four-years-old during the bombings.
“Dresden was an important part of his life,” Mark Archer explained. “It was obviously a tragic event to live through especially at that age and he wanted people to know that about him and he wanted people to understand what he had been through.”
“His hurt and pain from it,” Amber added.
Klopfer is the doctor his patients may never understand: the negligent clinics, his bitter, bedside manner, and the disturbing collection of fetal remains. Many of them are making it their unwavering mission to make sure the likes of him never go unchecked again.
“This all just makes me feel inside like I need to help do something,” said Kelly. “I do not want someone else to go through what I have gone through, to see their abortionist on T.V. 20 years later and wonder if one of those babies sitting in a cardboard box in a garage is theirs. That is an ugly, ugly position to be in.”
Limited details have emerged slowly from the Klopfer investigation since the initial discovery.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has held two press conferences since then as his office is leading the the case. They teamed up with several law enforcement agencies to go through all three of Klopfer’s clinics and are now examining records, documents, and the fetal remains.
Hill said according to the records with the 2,411 fetal remains, all of them are from Indiana patients from the years 2000 to 2002. All the remains have been brought from Klopfer’s home and car in Illinois to an undisclosed location in South Bend.
Hill said they’ll be buried after the investigation. His office is also looking to see if people who worked with Klopfer had any idea of or association with the fetal remains collection.
Part two of Disturbing Discovery will air on WANE 15 News and be published on wane.com on November 14. We’ll speak with law enforcement, lawmakers and the Indiana State Department of Health to learn what’s being done to make sure the acts of Klopfer are never repeated. Their mission is to make sure an abortion doctor never takes home fetal remains again.