Snuff It #3
Eating Fetus in China
Many thanks to our friend Karin Spaink in the Netherlands, who intercepted
the following article in a Usenet news group. Karin's Internet address is
The Electronic Telegraph, 13 April 1995, WORLD NEWS
Chinese trade in human fetuses for consumption is uncovered
by Yojana Sharma in Hong Kong
and Graham Hutchings in Beijing
ABORTED human fetuses intended for human consumption are being sold for as
little as ¥31 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 fetuses 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 fetus. The next day, she handed the reporter a
"fist-sized glass bottle stuffed with thumb-sized fetuses".
The doctor was quoted as saying: "There are 10 fetuses 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 them."
At private clinics, aborted fetuses could be obtained for between ¥31 and
¥31.75, the newspaper said. There was no evidence, however, that fetuses
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 fetuses
were "nutritious" and claimed to have eaten 100 herself in the past
She said the "best" were first-born males from young women.
"We don't carry out abortions just to eat the fetuses," she said,
but added that the fetuses would be "wasted if not eaten". The
newspaper said the fetuses were eaten as a soup, together with pork and
A woman doctor, referred to only as Wang, from the Sin Hua Clinic, Shenzhen,
was quoted as saying the fetuses were "even better than placentae"
in nutritional value. "They can make your skin smoother, your body
stronger and are good for kidneys," she said.
Dr Warren Lee, president of the Hong Kong Nutrition Association, said:
"Eating fetuses is a traditional Chinese medicine deeply founded in
folklore." However, he considered the alleged properties of fetuses
little more than old-wives' tales. Others said the practice was abhorrent.
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 fetuses.
She had not heard of fetuses 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 fetuses 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 fetuses, and she had not heard that they had been sold for individual
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 ¥32.50 and ¥33 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.
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