About 75 antiabortion protesters called for D.C. health and federal law enforcement officials to investigate a physician who they said was captured on an undercover video assuring a client that he would not intervene to save an aborted fetus if the fetus inadvertently survived the procedure.
Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said the group’s investigator recorded Cesare F. Santangelo, an obstetrician and gynecologist who has offices near George Washington University, saying he would not attempt to save the 24-week-old fetus if the fetus somehow survived the abortion, despite a federal law requiring such lifesaving measures.
Rose said the video of Santangelo and another of a Bronx abortion provider demonstrate that the sort of infanticidal practices alleged at the Philadelphia murder trial of Kermit Gosnell are more common nationwide than thought.
“I’m here to tell you, [Gosnell] is not an outlier,” Jill Stanek, an antiabortion blogger, told the group. Other speakers included Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List; Kirsten Hawkens, president of Students for Life; and Charmine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.
Protesters held up signs saying “Stop infanticide” and “I am the pro-life generation” outside Santangelo’s office on F Street NW. Rose said the Arlington-based antiabortion group plans to release more videos from other clinics around the country.
No one answered the door at Santangelo’s office after the protest. A call left with his answering service was not immediately returned. The videos do not depict Santangelo doing anything illegal and his attorney has said the doctor is in full compliance with D.C. law.
Santangelo, in an earlier interview, disputed Live Action’s interpretation of his comments on the video, saying he was trying to reassure the woman by saying he would not take extraordinary actions to save the fetus. He also said he would call 911 if an abortion resulted in a live birth.
In the video, Santangelo is shown telling the Live Action investigator that when performing a late-term abortion, he would sever the fetus’s umbilical cord in the womb, wait for the fetus to expire and induce labor. He is heard saying the fetus would probably be too premature to survive even if medical staff intervened. Pressed by the Live Action investigator, Santangelo addresses how he would handle the hypothetical situation.
“Technically, legally, we would be obligated to help it to survive,” Santangelo is heard saying. “We would not help it.”
Experts say it is exceedingly rare for a live birth to result from an abortion attempt. Santangelo and other doctors said they have never witnessed it.