The Remains of the Aborted Foetus

In New Zealand, most abortion clinics offer the option of taking one's aborted foetus home for burial in the belief that it will help couples to find a spiritual and emotional "closure."

  • The majority of foetal remains are incinerated with medical waste.
  • Foetal remains of late-term abortions are being sought for research, organs and cosmetics.
  • Opponents of using aborted foetuses for medical experiments claim that it is a throwback to Nazi medical experi- mentation.
  • The general practice is not to inform women undergoing induced abortions that the foetus will be harvested for its tissue.
  • Some doctors have developed abortion techniques that minimise damage to the tissue and organs.
In New Zealand the majority of foetal remains are incinerated along with medical waste, but some are taken home in plastic containers for burial.

In the United States and Western and Eastern Europe, where later abortion is more common, disposal is increasingly seen as wasteful when body parts can be harvested for medical research, organ transplants and even beauty products.

The development of 3D/4D ultrasound technology shown on the 2004 BBC documentary "My Foetus", has brought a sharper focus on the "humanity" of the foetus in the first and second trimester, and the poignancy of its death through abortion.

Take-home Burials
In New Zealand, most abortion clinics offer the option of taking one's aborted foetus home for burial. The women and her partner are encouraged to create a ritual and bury the foetus in a favourite place. This, it is suggested, will give "some sort of completion to help your healing." (Post Termination Information - Epsom Day Unit)

"The occasional delivery of a fetus with a heartbeat, suggests that fetal death occurs close to the time of abortion. Therefore, it seems likely that the fetal tissues so obtained might be suitable for organ transplants, for growing and attenuating viruses for vaccines and for basic research. The report on second-trimester (Prostin F1 Alpha) abortions, demonstrates that fetal tissues are viable and that representative enzymes are not altered significantly by the abortion technique."

The Ethics of Experimentation
Professor Gareth Jones, head of anatomy and structural biology at the University of Otago discussed the use of foetal tissue at the Bioethics Summer Seminar held at Otago University in February, 1998. (This article was published in ?Ethics Notes' Issue No.2, May 1998, by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.)

The debate over the use of foetus for experimental purposes starts with the status of the foetus. Even people who are not opposed to abortion have a problem with the issue of experimentation on the human embryo or foetus.

Selling Foetal Body Parts
An established trade exists between Russian abortion clinics and medical research laboratories in Europe. At least one French cosmetic company buys foetal tissue for collagen in beauty products. (Source: "101 Uses for a Dead (or live) Baby" by Dr. O. Fairfax)

In the United States, clinics and hospitals supply foetal tissue to laboratories. A premium is placed on the freshness of the tissue. Foetuses aborted in the second trimester are regarded as supplying the best quality material.

Some doctors have developed abortion techniques that minimise damage to the tissue and organs. Prostaglandin is considered to provide the optimum means of ensuring an undamaged body in the second trimester. More on the trade in foetal remains can be read here.

Ova and Ovarian Tissue Use in IVF Treatments
In 1993, a British fertility scientist at Edinburgh University, Dr Roger Gosden, proposed the use of ovarian tissue, including ova, be taken from aborted female foetuses to treat infertile women. Read more here.

Read Aborted babies cremated with animals.