WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) held a press conference in front of Washington Surgi Clinic on Wednesday, May 4, to announce a cash reward for any current or past clinic worker who agrees to testify under oath against Dr. Cesare Santangelo, the doctor who works in the clinic.
President and Executive Director of PAAU, Terrisa Bukovinac, said, “Your voice does matter in this, and not only does it matter, it comes with a $25,000 reward.”
The group believes that Dr. Santangelo is breaking federal abortion law inside the clinic.
“He’s just kind of one of those dark figures in the abortion world,” Bukovinac said when asked why Dr. Santangelo was being targeted. “He’s known because there are very few doctors willing to do abortions this late in pregnancy.”
The doctor was put back at the forefront of the PAAU’s fight in March of 2022. The group claims that 115 fetal remains, including five fetuses, were found in a box of medical waste coming from the Washington Surgi Clinic. They claim to have buried 110 of the remains in an undisclosed location.
D.C. Police recovered five fetuses from a Capitol Hill home, and PAAU claims those remains prove Dr. Santangelo is breaking federal law. No investigation has made a direct connection between the doctor and the remains.
WDVM has reached out to Dr. Santangelo multiple times over several weeks, and he nor the clinic have responded.
Bukovinac walked into the clinic with two other activists to offer the reward to clinic workers. After, she said, “Hopefully they will trust us and know that this is going to happen, that this is real. We’re committed to this and know that they are likely in a better position, legally, by coming forward than staying silent.”
The group is also fighting for the city to perform autopsies on the five fetuses that are at the Office of the Medical Examiner. D.C. Police determined no laws were broken in that case, but the city’s answer to WDVM’s Freedom of Information Act request for the autopsies said, “A search was conducted that was reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents based upon the information provided in your request. We were unable to locate any records responsive to your request.”
Outside of the clinic, there was a political protest regarding abortion between the PAAU and George Washington University college students who gathered. While the groups did not agree on abortion, some said the requests from the PAAU were valid.
Sara Ragsdale explained, “Asking for those sorts of things like justice, an autopsy and research into malpractice, those all seem reasonable. Like the types of things any person would want as they get to the bottom of this.”
In addition to Dr. Santiago and Washington Surgi Clinic, WDVM has reached out to the Department of Justice and D.C. Police to get more clarification on any investigation status. At the time this article was published, the DOJ had responded that they do not comment on investigations or future investigations. D.C. Police have not responded.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference on Wednesday, May 4, that she was not discussing the case at this time.