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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - This Sept. 17, 2014, file photo shows Dr. Ulrich Klopfer. Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill will preside over the mass burial Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, of more than 2,400 fetuses found last year at the suburban Chicago home of Klopfer, one of the Midwest's most prolific abortion doctors, days after he died. (South Bend Tribune via AP, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — In what's sure to be a politically charged ceremony, more than 2,400 fetuses found last year at the suburban Chicago home of one of the Midwest's most prolific abortion doctors will be buried today in Indiana, a state with some of the nation's toughest anti-abortion laws.

Indiana's top law enforcement official will preside over the mass burial in South Bend. The service comes five months after relatives sorting through Dr. Ulrich Klopfer's belongings after his Sept. 3 death came across 2,246 sets of preserved fetal remains stacked floor to ceiling in his garage. Later, 165 more were found in a trunk of a car at a business where Klopfer kept several vehicles.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill will speak at the burial and later offer an update on the investigation into Klopfer and whether anyone assisted him in moving the remains to his home in Crete, Illinois, about a mile from the Indiana state line.

The burial plot at Southlawn Cemetery was donated by the Palmer Funeral Home, and all the remains will be laid to rest in the same grave, Hill's office said.

Klopfer, who was 79, performed tens of thousands of abortions over 40 years, mainly in Indiana and often as the only abortion doctor serving South Bend, Gary and Fort Wayne. He was a reviled figure among anti-abortion activists, who held weekly demonstrations outside his clinics, sometimes blocking entryways. Protesters once hacked holes in the roof of the South Bend clinic and poked a water hose through a mail slot, flooding an entry room.

Hill, a Republican seeking a second term as attorney general, has been under scrutiny in recent months about allegations he drunkenly groped a female state legislator and three other women at an Indianapolis bar in 2018. He has denied the accusations and put his defense of state laws tightening abortion restrictions at the forefront of his campaign for another term. Being in the spotlight during the burial could help shore up support among social conservatives.

Multiple messages left for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which has been a staunch critic of Hill, were not returned Tuesday.

Foes of abortion heralded Hill's role in making the burial happen.

"I'm so grateful that, finally, the bodies of these little boys and girls will be treated with the dignity they deserved," said Cathie Humbarger, who heads Right to Life in northeast Indiana.

Humbarger, who will attend today's services, said she saw no sign Hill's participation at the burial was motivated by anything but sincere opposition to abortion.

Hill is awaiting a decision from the Indiana Supreme Court on whether he will face disciplinary action over the groping allegations. A special prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, but the state attorney discipline commission is seeking a two-year suspension of his law license, which would put his state position in jeopardy.

Indiana is one of just a few states with a law mandating burial or cremation of fetal remains after abortions. The law did not take immediate effect because of court challenges after then-Gov. Mike Pence signed it into law in 2016. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May upheld the law.

Previously, during Klopfer's career, clinics could turn over fetal remains to processors that dispose of human tissue or other medical material by incineration. Authorities have said the fetal remains in Klopfer's garage were from abortions in the 2000s.

Planned Parenthood officials have long expressed concerns such laws will increase costs to clinics, making them less economically viable and thereby reducing women's access to abortion. As it is, just nine facilities in all of Indiana provided abortions in 2017, according to the abortion-rights Guttmacher Institute, citing the latest available data. Critics of fetal-burial laws said they also contribute to stigmatization of those women who abort pregnancies.

There's no indication Klopfer told others about his grim collection, including his wife. And no one has a clear understanding of his motive. Some have speculated it was part of a hoarding disorder, or he was trying to save disposal costs as he racked up legal bills suing and being sued by abortion opponents.

News reports about Klopfer going back decades portrayed him as combative and quick to give the finger to protesters. He spoke emphatically about ensuring women had access to abortion in Indiana.

Discussing the abortion debate, he once told a reporter: "If men got pregnant and women didn't, this wouldn't be a discussion."

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