Pro-life House members are calling for autopsies and a full investigation into whether federal laws were broken in the late-term abortions of five babies whose remains were discovered by pro-life activists in Washington, D.C.

Several members of Congress and pro-life leaders held a press conference in front of the Capitol on Wednesday in which they said that the five babies’ remains suggest they may have been killed via an abortion method known as “partial-birth abortion,” which is banned nationally under federal law.

Partial-birth abortion is a procedure in which a doctor partially delivers a baby only to kill him or her by either crushing the skull or removing the brain by suction. The leaders at the press conference demanded action from the federal government to determine whether the babies, often referred to as the “D.C. Five,” were killed in this manner.

“We’re talking about precious life that was just callously disregarded, discarded, just thrown away like refuse, that’s just unconscionable,” said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.

“We need to go seek the truth. We need to know what’s going to happen next. We need the Department of Justice … to look into this,” he said.

Who are the D.C. Five?

The secular pro-life group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) originally obtained the remains of the aborted babies in March 2022. The group said it acquired them from the Washington Surgi-Clinic run by Dr. Cesare Santangelo, an OB-GYN and well-known abortionist in the city.

The five babies, all of whom were in late stages of gestation, were discovered with major lacerations, torn limbs, and crushed skulls, all consistent with methods used in partial-birth abortions. Their discovery sparked outrage and calls for a federal investigation from pro-life groups and citizens.

Despite calls for an investigation, the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) has not announced any plans to take action. On Feb. 5, PAAU announced that the office of the D.C. medical examiner had shared with the group its intent to cremate the babies’ remains at the behest of the DOJ. This prompted Roy and Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, to write a letter to the DOJ in which they said that “without an independent examination for the purposes of countering the argument of ‘lawful abortions’ it is not known how each child died.”

The D.C. medical examiner’s office has since reportedly postponed plans to cremate the babies’ remains; however, still no plans have been announced for an autopsy and their fate remains uncertain.

During the press conference, Rep. Bob Good, R-Virginia, accused the DOJ of being “complicit in covering up the cold-blooded murder” of “precious lives.”

“This is about murder and yet nothing’s been done,” Good said. “No autopsy. No investigation. You have to ask yourself: ‘Why?’ Are we a country that has a rule of law or not? Does the Justice Department actually dispense justice? Those are very fair questions.”

Good suggested that if the DOJ does not act, then Congress should investigate the killings.

“It’s high time Congress conduct its own investigation,” he said, “because the DOJ, if they won’t seek justice, then Congress, I think, is compelled to.”

On Feb. 8, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz issued a letter of his own in which he said: “Should the D.C. medical examiner’s office decide not to conduct timely autopsies, or preserve the bodies of these babies for outside examination, the Senate Judiciary Committee will have no choice but to expand this issue into a full hearing featuring the Department of Justice and the Office of the D.C. Medical Examiner as witnesses before the American public.”

‘Their bodies tell a story’

Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, told CNA after the press conference that he believes the D.C. Five are not the only babies being killed through illegal partial-birth abortions and that they are just the “tip of a much larger human rights violating iceberg the likes of which Americans need to know about.”

“We’ve got to really shine the brightest light on what is going on,” he said. “Minimally, this particular doctor needs to be held to account. We do think he broke laws. But only evidence will prove that. Well, don’t destroy the evidence.”

Jamie Dangers, legislative director of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, who was also present at the conference, told CNA that it is especially important to find the truth about the D.C. Five because it proves the true barbarity of abortion.

“A lot of times with abortion, the whole idea can be very sanitized, and it can be construed as health care or anything like that,” Dangers said. “Yet, because we have the actual evidence, the actual bodies of these children, their bodies tell a story that cuts through all the euphemisms. And so, these five children, obviously their lives were cut short, we can’t help that, but what we can do is dignify their memories and use their stories to help protect other children from similar deaths.”