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Thousands of Fetal Remains and Abandoned Medical Records Discovered in Indiana

The late Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who operated three abortion clinics in Indiana up until the suspension of his license in 2015, has been discovered to have removed fetal remains from his clinics. The remains were discovered by family members while sorting through his personal belongings at his Illinois home following his death on September 3, 2019.

Authorities investigating the discovery have announced that that 2,246 medically preserved fetal remains were found at the property. The remains are believed to have been removed from his clinics. No evidence has been uncovered to suggest any procedures were performed at the property.

Indiana Attorney General Hill described Dr. Klopfer as “one of the most notorious abortionists in the history of Indiana” with “a record of deplorable conditions and violations of regulatory controls.” His license was suspended in 2015 over multiple violations of state laws, including improper record keeping, a failure to report a case of the rape of a minor following an abortion procedure, and violations of state waiting periods. Dr. Klopfer lost his medical license in 2016.

The remains have been removed from the property and have been transferred to the Will County coroner’s office. Attorney General Hill confirmed on Friday that all the remains had come from Dr. Klopfer’s abortion clinics in South Bend, Gary, and Fort Wayne in Indiana and date from 2000 to 2002. Officials in Illinois have now turned over evidence and information to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.

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Attorney General Curtis Hill also announced that after executing search warrants, investigators uncovered thousands of medical records at Dr. Klopfer’s property and his abortion clinics. Those records have now been removed and secured.

“Folks who use these clinics have a high degree of expectation of privacy and confidentiality… It’s deplorable now that folks who went into this procedure, no matter how you feel about this procedure, have to relive that moment,” said Attorney General Hill. The attorney general’s office is attempting to contact all individuals affected.

A law was introduced in Indiana in 2016 that required all medical facilities in the state to bury or cremate fetal remains. The Supreme Court upheld the law this year and it became enforceable this September. Under HIPAA, all medical records must be secured at all times to prevent unauthorized access. While there is no medical record retention period under HIPAA, state medical record retention laws require medical records to be retained for 7 years after the date when the record was made.  It is currently unclear what laws, if any, have been violated.

“We are going to continue this matter to determine as best we can exactly what happened here,” said Attorney General Hill. “But in the meantime, I can tell you that we are going to bring our babies home and make sure they are treated with the proper dignity and respect deserving of anyone.”

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.