Eating human fetuses (fwd)

Mon, 01 May 1995 08:47:54 -0500 (EST)

The Electronic Telegraph 13 April 1995 WORLD NEWS
Chinese trade in human foetuses for consumption is uncovered

By Yojana Sharma in Hong Kong and Graham Hutchings in Beijing

ABORTED human foetuses intended for human consumption are being
sold for as little as 1 pound in the Chinese city of Shenzhen,
according to reports in Hong Kong yesterday.

The Eastern Express newspaper said journalists from its sister
publication, Eastweek, had gone to Shenzhen, across the border
from Hong Kong, to see if foetuses were being sold. Shenzhen
hospitals carried out 7,000 terminations last year, including a
number on Hong Kong women seeking cheap abortions.

At the state-run Shenzhen Health Centre for Women and Children,
a female doctor was asked for a foetus. The next day, she handed
the reporter a "fist-sized glass bottle stuffed with thumb-sized

The doctor was quoted as saying: "There are 10 foetuses here,
all aborted this morning. You can take them. We are a state
hospital and don't charge. Normally we doctors take them home
to eat - all free. Since you don't look well, you can take

At private clinics, aborted foetuses could be obtained for
between 1 pound and 1.75 pounds, the newspaper said. There was
no evidence, however, that foetuses were being sold in large
quantities to middlemen for sale in Hong Kong.

Zou Qin, a doctor working at the Luo Hu Clinic in Shenzhen, said
the foetuses were "nutritious" and claimed to have eaten 100
herself in the past six months.

She said the "best" were first-born males from young women. "We
don't carry out abortions just to eat the foetuses," she said,
but added that the foetuses would be "wasted if not eaten". The
newspaper said the foetuses were eaten as a soup, together with
pork and ginger.

A woman doctor, referred to only as Wang, from the Sin Hua
Clinic, Shenzhen, was quoted as saying the foetuses were "even
better than placentae" in nutritional value. "They can make your
skin smoother, your body stronger and are good for kidneys," she

Dr Warren Lee, president of the Hong Kong Nutrition Association,
said: "Eating foetuses is a traditional Chinese medicine deeply
founded in folklore." However, he considered the alleged
properties of foetuses little more than old-wives' tales. Others
said the practice was abhorrent.

The sale and consumption of placentae is common in China

Dr Cao Shilin, of the Hospital of Chinese medicine in Shenzhen,
said aborted embryos were taken to factories where they were
used in the production of medicines.

She did not know if any were sold to private individuals, but
said there was little medical value in embryos older than eight
weeks when, in Chinese terms, they were classified as foetuses.

She had not heard of foetuses being sold in Shenzhen, but warned
that eating them could be dangerous, given the strong medicines
used in abortions.

A doctor in Beijing, who declined to be named, said parts of
foetuses would have medical value, singling out the liver as
something that could help to cure anaemia.

But hospitals in Beijing had ovens for the destruction of
aborted foetuses, and she had not heard that they had been sold
for individual consumption.

The sale and consumption of placentae is common in China, though
frowned upon by the authorities. Only those with good
connections to the medical world can obtain placentae, which
cost between 2.50 pounds and 3 pounds each.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, it is regarded as
particularly beneficial for a nursing mother to eat her own
placenta because it improves her milk. It is usually drunk in
the form of a soup.