eating fetuses -legal question

According to this cite , the trade and consumption of human placentae and fetuses are traditional in China although in no way prevalent.

Are there laws in Canada and/or US that govern the disposal of human fetuses? Is it legal to eat human fetus?

Jeepers. I put “legal eat fetus” into Google and the most amazin’ stuff starts poppin’ up.

…and it gets pretty gross from there, so I’m not gonna quote it. But you may infer from the URL that it should be taken with “heavy sarcasm” mode ON.

This website has the “facts” about aborted babies being sold as health food in China, but it’s hardly an unbiased website, and it had so many DETAILS that my UL alarm went off.

So I went over to Snopes. Snopes is your friend.

BTW, you evidently didn’t notice that your link is to an Urban Myth website?

DDG, the fact that my link is to an Urban Myth website is no accident. I just discovered this phenomenon during my research on Christian universalism. I immediately sought clarification from an “unbiased source”, and came up with this Snopes article which does not support your conclusion. It disputes the claims of one Mary Senander claiming the consumption of fetuses as a recent trendy phenomenon and clarifies the the sources and statements of respectable news organizations that originally reported on the consumption of fetuses. Snopes did not challenge these statements.

Your presentation of anti-abortion websites is no doubt intended to undermine the credibility of these news reports, but bear in mind that these sites are irrelevant to the issue of whether the consumption of fetuses occurs or not.

With regard to the claim that nothing came of this call to arms, and thereby suggesting the claims were bogus is ridiculous reasoning.

Now can we get back to my question?

<<Are there laws in Canada and/or US that govern the disposal of human fetuses? Is it legal to eat human fetus?>>

In the past, there were laws saying that a fetus was NOT a person, which resulted in fetuses not being buried in cemeteries, etc. but were simply disposed of like other medical waste. AFAIK most of those have been repealed to allow grieving parents (not quite the word, the people who would have been the parents had the fetus been born alive) to bury them.

Barring that, there might be regulations dealing with what you do with biohazardous waste, but that would only apply if your fetus was delivered in a hospital or doctor’s office.

Of course, if you live in a city, extract your fetus at home, and then eat it, you’re probably breaking the livestock zoning laws. (I can’t believe I just typed that.)

Corr, who’s gonna avoid the lasagna today

Your link is for a message board, e-zine, and chat room for college students in Bristol, England.

I don’t see any journalistic credentials in evidence, or indications of moderation or self-policing. If you’re a member, you can submit whatever you want. Just because someone posted an uncredited copy of the “eating fetuses in China” story doesn’t make the eating of fetuses in China a proven fact.

Your link is not a Snopes article. The only Snopes article dealing with eating fetuses is the one I linked to. Barbara Mikkelson doesn’t even mention someone named Mary Senander. I don’t know what the phrase “cite provided by Snopes” is supposed to mean, because it certainly isn’t on the Snopes website.

It is, however, on the website, being copied word for word from

This “Food–Baby Eating” page merely offers two choices: the Star Tribune, or UPI. The Star Tribune link is the one copied on the Bristol student services website.

The UPI link merely reprints an excerpted portion of the original Hong Kong article, that is reprinted in full on the abortionTV website I linked to. And at the bottom is the same phrase, “cite provided by Snopes”.

Since this is an Urban Legends website, I think we may take it as read that they don’t believe it, either–they’re just posting it. It’s assumed that if you’re browsing their website, you know what an Urban Legend is, and they don’t feel a need to either explain or debunk, unlike the Mikkelsons.

The UL goes:

I have looked around on the Telegraph’s website, using their search function, and I can’t find any record of them ever having reprinted this story.

Here is the gist of the article: The author says that Mary Senander says that they’re eating fetuses in China. The author cites the fact that the article has been reprinted in a mainstream Western newspaper as proof that it is indeed true. Instead of addressing the issue of whether the report is true, he addresses the issue of whether Mary Senander should be saying mean things about what may be an ancient and honorable, if peculiar, Chinese dietary practice.

The author is quibbling with Senander’s semantics, not with the truth or falseness of the news report. This is a fairly common approach with Internet Urban Legends. Don’t address the issue of whether or not Bigfoot exists–just quibble with the semantics of people who call it a “monster”.

This anti-abortion link that I quoted

contains the entire Telegraph article that is excerpted in the link. I quoted it, not because of any particular anti-abortion personal agenda, or from a desire to “undermine the credibility” of anything (BTW, you might want to ask for a refund on that mind-reading course you took), but because it was the article referred to in the Snopes link.

Agreed, but as I have just pointed out, the reason I linked to the AbortionTV website was because it had the entire article, and the reason I linked to the other website was basically out of astonishment that this kind of stuff is out there.

Which amounted to one purported reprint of a suspect article from a Hong Kong newspaper. How about a more reputable cite, like CNN, Newsweek, Reuters?

No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t clarify anything at all. All it says is, basically, “Here’s the article”.

A. Your article is not from Snopes.
B. MY Snopes article DOES seem to challenge the conclusion that “the Chinese are eating fetuses”.

That sure sounds to me like, “The Chinese are not eating fetuses”.

According to Snopes, you have discovered an Urban Legend.

Your “unbiased source” is a college kids’ e-zine.

No, the “ridiculous reasoning” is in reasoning that just because something’s posted on the Internet, it must be true.

Since this is a website devoted to Fighting Ignorance, and since this is the General Questions Forum in that website, where serious discussion of Urban Legends is not particularly welcome, why don’t you go find some serious support for your allegation that the Chinese are eating fetuses, and then we’ll talk?

Otherwise, this is like talking about whether it’s legal to keep Bigfoot chained up in your garage or not.

And he dared to go up against the famous Duck Duck Goose.

And he lost. Lesson learned !

<—chuckling mightily. NICEY done, Ducky.

I’ll pass on the doll’s head, but duck? Mmmmmm…duuuuuuuck.



hijacking nitpick :slight_smile:

Actually Corrvin most of us who lose babies do call ourselves parents. The law doesn’t say that the fetus is a person, it says that it is legal to register the baby as a person after 26 weeks and get a birth certificate. Quite a few people who lose babies prior to 26 weeks do have a service and I haven’t come across anyone with a baby past this time who hasn’t had a funeral of some kind. It’s a really individual process though. I certainly felt like a ‘parent’ albeit a parent of a dead child after my son was stillborn. Once I had a living baby, I was a far more blessed parent.

I’ve known a few people who ate the placenta and who were really positive about the health benefits. I buried mine and planted roses on them.

Primaflora corrects me, <<Actually Corrvin most of us who lose babies do call ourselves parents. >>

Thank you, I was fairly sure of the technicalities but not knowing anyone in that position, I wasn’t sure which would be more appropriate. I certainly don’t want to say that someone who’s hoped, planned, dreamed, and experienced a pregnancy has no right to grieve, or make their own decision about how they want to consider themselves afterward.

I appreciate your being so kind in the face of my fingers running amok over such a personal subject.


Brilliant, as usual, DDG!

Aw… :o I’m not out for blood, you guys, just “truth”. :rolleyes:

Here is some background information on where the original “Chinese are eating fetuses” article came from. It’s too long to quote without getting yelled at, so I’ll just hit the high points.

So then, of course, the question, “well, is it legal to eat fetuses?” wouldn’t leave me alone, all afternoon. And I think it’s clear, too, that we’re not talking about stillborn babies and grieving parents here, but about the end result of abortion clinics. Stillborn babies and miscarriages in a hospital context get official death certificates, but “fetal remains” in an abortion clinic don’t, depending on the state. (I did notice, as it went past, that the state of Utah requires its abortion clinics to issue death certificates for pregnancy terminations of more than 20 weeks gestation).

There’s not a lot out there on “cannibalism illegal”. Evidently cannibalism isn’t exactly illegal.

Although selling human flesh as meat is.

OSHA considers fetal tissue to be a “regulated waste” under their “Blood Borne Pathogen” guidelines, and it must be treated as a biohazard and disposed of according to OSHA guidelines.

However, in a non-OSHA context, what the abortion clinics do with fetal remains evidently varies from state to state. I spent a while looking, and I don’t see any big general guidelines. Of course, all the anti-abortion websites insist that fetal remains are sent down the garbage disposal, but with the market in fetal tissue for research that’s evident on the Web, I somehow doubt that all of it ends up that way.

So, ya know, folks, to address the OP, I interpret this all to mean that yes, it’s probably legal to eat fetuses, depending on where you live, and provided you obtained them legally somehow.

Yeah, about as brilliant as your description of the Marshal Plan.

Well I could respond toDDG line for line, but it occured to me that just about every reference was to sites using the original information for their own purposes. No one has provided any evidence to the contrary or in country assertions to contradict.

In order to support her assertion, DDG refers to a college students website as run by kids? Hmmm

What really bugs me is her assertion that a reputable Hong Kong newspaper is not reputable. She prefers to have her news from some American news agency. That is arrogant.

In order to ascertain just what kind of newspaper (Eastern Express) broke the story in 1995, I found this article in the Columbia Journalism Review, Jan/Feb 94

You will find an article dealing with the foreboding implications for a free press with the Chinese takeover by 1997 and the brave launching of an “upscale” English language newspaper by the publisher of the Oriental Daily , the leading Chinese language daily in Hong Kong.
Pay particular attention to the credentials of the editor Stephen Vines and the target audience of bilingual Hong Kong residents.

Obviously the newspaper and its parent is no longer publishing, and the author is not available for cross examination, but unless some reporter follows up on the wide open trail of inquiry left by the author, I will keep an open mind as to the veracity of his claim.

As an aside, canabalism is not all that unusual.Even some Americans eat placentae. I remember some documentary that concoctions made from Egyptian mummies
were popular in Europe. I don’t think you will find that on CNN though. Chew on that DDG

Anyhow, thankyou for your efforts on answering my question.

I’d like to point out why “cite provided by snopes” is confusing to some people.

Snopes is both a web page and a person who posts/posted to alt.folklore.urban, so when you come across some alt.folklore.urban FAQ (which is what is) and see something like “snopes said X”, it may not refer to the web page. Note, however, that the web page is run by the afu poster.

From The Den Of Iniquity - Alt.Folklore.Urban

So, with regard to the article on, it is likely that a thread on afu first posted many years ago led snopes to post the article you have found. Since then, snopes’ wife has written a more up to date version at

Not sure if eating placenta is legal in China. I have heard ancedotal stories of people who have eaten a placenta soup. I can tell you it is not a widespread practice.

As for foetuses, get real. I don’t understand why normally rational people can suspend all disbeleaf when it comes to something in China, but it happens a lot.


grienspace-so I got it confused with the Berlin Airlift-so WHAT?

Here is a good explanation of that.

You mean evidence that says that the Chinese are so eating fetuses? Well, my position is that they aren’t eating fetuses, and I’ve provided cites that agree with me, and I might add, cites that show to my satisfaction that it’s an Urban Legend. Now it’s your turn. Your position is that the Chinese are in fact eating fetuses. So, go get me some cites to prove it, besides a reprinted page from the website, which is what your only link so far IS, and which, being from an Urban Legends website, may be taken to prove that they are NOT eating fetuses.

Grienspace, the college kids’ website was YOUR link. That was YOUR cite. That was YOUR so-called “unbiased source” from which you sought confirmation of the “fact” that the Chinese are eating fetuses, after you “discovered” it during your research on Christian universalism.

And if the point of this otherwise pointless comment is that you’re quibbling about my characterizing college students as “kids”, do allow me the luxury of looking down from the eminence of my forty-something years and indulgently viewing everybody under age 20 as “kids”. I’m old, humor me.

You have absolutely NO WAY of knowing that the Hong Kong Eastern Express was a reputable newspaper. To me, the fact that it would publish an article like this, which according to the guy’s research (did you bother to read the entire link, Grienspace?), is to a large part unfounded in fact, proves that it was probably NOT a “reputable newspaper”, or at least, one that didn’t mind skating close to the edge.

I will remind you, if you didn’t already know, that Generoso Pope, when he set out to make the National Enquirer the leading tabloid in the U.S. in the 1960s, paid good money for leading journalistic talent. Just because the Columbia Journalism Review, almost as an afterthought to its 1994 speculation on the possibilities of a free press after the Chinese takeover in 1997, chose to drop a few non-committal remarks about a new paper that was starting up, doesn’t mean that the Hong Kong Eastern Express was a reputable newspaper.

Here are their non-committal remarks, from your link. Bolding mine.

This blurb does NOT say, “There is a new, reputable newspaper starting up”. This blurb says, “There is a new newspaper starting up.” It says, “It is upscale. It is daily. It is English-language. The editor is, in our opinion, a respected British journalist. He has recruited 25 of the competition’s best staff members, as well as their top sales people.”

This blurb is NOT necessarily saying, “These are all reputable journalists who would never in a million years dream of publishing something that wasn’t true.” This blurb is saying, “There is a lot of money behind this.” Gene Pope paid big money and had some of America’s most “reputable” journalists working for him, writing stories about rapes and sex crimes and aliens. They took the money and ran. Just because there was a lot of money behind the National Enquirer didn’t make it a reputable newspaper.

You should read I Watched a Wild Hog Eat My Baby! A History of the Tabloids by Bill Sloan.

No, I do not prefer to have my news from “some American news agency”–I merely prefer to have my news from some “reputable” news agency. There are Far East news outlets with good reputations, such as BBC-Asia Pacific, BBC-Far East, and the South China Morning Post, still Hong Kong’s biggest English-language newspaper. Their news always looks fairly unbiased. None of them, to my knowledge, have broken a story about the Chinese eating fetuses.

A single cite from a defunct Far East newspaper of unknown reputation is not good practice. I would prefer to have my news from a REPUTABLE news agency, not from what was possibly the Hong Kong equivalent of the National Enquirer.

Okay, he’s described as a “respected British journalist who has been a correspondent for The Observer and The Guardian and who was, until recently, president of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club”. How does merely having been a correspondent for other newspapers make him a paragon of journalistic integrity? How does the application of the relatively neutral adjective “respected” by the Columbia Journalism Review make him a paragon of journalistic integrity?

If it’s the same guy, there’s a Stephen Vines who is working as a financial columnist for Quamnet.

So he’s a columnist, so he maybe once ran the Eastern Express, so what? It doesn’t prove that he never went against good journalistic practice and okayed a dubious article by Bruce Gilley on the Chinese eating fetuses because he knew it would help sell newspapers. Gene Pope, at the National Enquirer, personally approved every single story that they ever ran. All the sex crimes and rapes and alien stories–he personally reviewed those and gave them the go-ahead.

I have no idea what this is supposed to signify. Is it somehow “better”, more “reputable”, if the Hong Kong Eastern Express is aimed at a bilingual audience? Are you saying that English-speakers would never, ever fall for sleazy tabloid-style journalism? That English-speakers are more upscale, more intelligent, more discerning in their choice of newspapers? Isn’t that a teeny bit, well, racist?

And I might point out that the National Enquirer is of course published in English.

Well, actually, the jesus21 guy did, but since you didn’t read the link, you couldn’t be expected to know that.

Well, that’s fine, Grienspace, you just go ahead and keep an open mind as to whether the Chinese are eating fetuses. It’s good to have an open mind, especially about Urban Legends, because you never know when they might turn out to be true after all, and then won’t Barbara Mikkelson and Cecil look stupid when it turns out that Mountain Dew really does shrink your 'nads…

Re mummies:

Well first off, the assertion that I am a racist is utter bullshit, hateful, and indicative of the true nature of the validity of your argument when you have to assassinate my character DDG.
If you read any Hong Kong dailies, you would know that most bilingual readers are Chinese, not white. People who are bilingual are generally better educated.

This is a beauty.
Oh really? Their news “always” look fairly unbiased ?
Am I being led to believe that you are a regular reader? I’ve go a bridge in Brooklyn…

I haven’t got the time or inclination to refute DDG’s unfounded assertion that the Eastern Express was a tabloid paper, and all her other repeated irrelevant assertions as well as her claim that the jesus21site qualifies as an in country investigation.

My GF takes placenta tablets every day, and has made attempts to get me to take them too. My reaction is, “But, I’m vegetarian!” (She is, too.) Go figure. Here’s her website. :rolleyes:
I’m holding the box in my hand right now. If anyone is interested, I’ll scan it in and post it.

The english on the box says: (in part)

They are bought (legally) in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and are imported from The Central Medical Manufactory & Co. in Tientsin, China.

Larry: I will confine myself to pointing out two things.

  1. A placenta is not the same thing as a fetus.
  2. Not all placenta available as nutriceuticals and cosmetics additives in the U.S. comes from human placenta. A good deal of it comes from animal placenta, especially sheep. “Swiss lamb placenta” seems to be popular, for some reason.

So your GF must be some kind of lacto-ovo-placenta vegetarian, huh?

For the record, the point I was trying to make was that saying that people who speak English are better-educated than people who don’t sounds racist. However, as that was evidently not the point you were trying to make, I withdraw the adjective, and any possible hint of character assassination. However, the point you were trying to make remains unclear. Let us explore it further.

Now this, on the other hand, does sound, if not “racist”, then at least “bigoted”.

Posited: most bilingual readers are Chinese.
Posited: most bilingual people are better educated.
Therefore: most Chinese are better educated, and according to this line of reasoning, it’s because they speak English.
Therefore, people who speak English are better-educated than people who don’t. Maybe “bigoted” isn’t the word I want–“Anglo-centric”?

It sure sounds an awful lot like the tip of the “Orientals are much more intelligent than other races” iceberg. “Oh, the well-educated bilingual Chinese would never go for a sleazy Enquirer-type tabloid, so if a newspaper was published in Hong Kong for bilingual Chinese readers, therefore it must have been a reputable newspaper.”

You know, I saw a quote from the current publisher of the Weekly World News in that Bill Sloan book, in which he confesses that over half of their mail subscriptions are taken by college students. I’ve got a news flash for you, Grienspace: intelligent, bilingual people read sleazy tabloids.

Obviously the majority of people who read bilingual newspapers in Hong Kong are going to be Chinese, just because a majority of people in Hong Kong are Chinese, period. So saying “most bilingual readers in Hong Kong are Chinese” has absolutely nothing to do with anything.

As for this:

I don’t suppose you’ve got any kind of cite for that?

Because I can think of lots and lots of examples on the other side of the fence, namely, that a talent for languages doesn’t mean anything about a person’s relative intelligence or how much education he’s had, and that there are many places in the world where people routinely speak more than one language, but that nevertheless have low percentages of college graduates and low literacy levels.

Many people in Europe routinely learn English as a second language, and sometimes other European languages, too, and I’m not talking about college professors, Grienspace, I’m talking about the tour guides and the cab drivers, the bellboys and the secretaries, the people who run the movie theaters and the hot dog stands.

Or moving away from the Anglo-Saxon bias, how about India and Pakistan?

There are 1,650 different languages in India, and 350 of those are recognized as “major”.

Here is a really cool map showing where all these languages are spoken. (Obviously they aren’t all on there.)

According to this website, English is spoken as a second language by 10 million Indians, and that’s not just the college professors, Grienspace, that’s also the tour guides and the cab drivers, the bellboys and the secretaries, the people who run movie theaters and hot dog stands.

This website also has a list of the ones that are spoken by at least a million people each. These aren’t quaint fringe dialects, these are mainstream languages, some of them spoken by tens of millions of people. In order to get along in India, you sometimes have to know not only the language you grew up speaking, from whatever Indian state, but also Hindi, English, and other Indian languages.

Hindi is the official language of 8 Indian states, including the Punjab, which was split in 1947 between India and Pakistan. So if you live in the Indian Punjab, not only do you speak Punjabi, you also have to learn Hindi, if you’re going to get along with the rest of India. Other languages that are spoken in the Punjab include Bagri, Bhili, Dogri-Kankri, Haryanvi, Kashmiri, and Marwari.

And then there are the Pakistani languages., which it might not be a bad idea to learn, seeing as how they’re right next door. Urdu is the official language of Pakistan, English is the communication language of most organizations and ministries, then there’s Punjabi (of course), Sindhi, Pashtu, and Balochi.

Now, are all the citizens of Pakistan and India who speak more than one language then “better educated”?

You got some kind of problem with me reading the news from Hong Kong every day? Maybe it’s not Anglo-centric enough for you? Why should I be concerned about what’s going on in the lives of a lot of slant-eyed gooks who eat fetuses, is that it?

Well, um, if you had been reading for content instead of merely skimming out of peevishness, you might have noticed that I didn’t exactly “assert” that the Eastern Express WAS a tabloid newspaper. My point was that we have no way of knowing what kind of newspaper it may have been, and it’s just as likely that it was a tabloid as it was the Hong Kong version of the New York Times, especially based on the one surviving article from it, which turns out to be an Urban Legend. I was “suggesting” that it MAY HAVE BEEN a tabloid, not “asserting”.

And implicit in that suggestion was the suggestion that you try to keep an open mind about what kind of newspaper it was. Instead, you’re so determined to keep an open mind about the Chinese eating fetuses that you’re going to keep your mind stubbornly closed on the issue of whether your only cite for the factoid might have been from a suspect source.

Please show me where I have said anything irrelevant to the discussion in this thread, other than my opening remarks about eating fetuses.

Not sure what you mean by “in country investigation”. Do you mean, you think I’m saying that the Jesus21 guy performed the equivalent of going to Hong Kong and doing his best imitation of Sam Spade, tracking down all the particulars of the case? No, I’m not saying that.

But I do think that the Jesus21 guy sending e-mails to the folks involved in the original article, and having them decline to respond, is a good enough debunking for me. I don’t need to have a full-scale Woodward-Bernstein investigation to prove it isn’t true, ESPECIALLY when, and follow me closely here, your original cite is from an Urban Legends website.

Your only support for this entire thread is an UL. Now, if you had come in here and said, “Hey, guys, I know it’s an Urban Legend that the Chinese eat fetuses, but what I wanna know is, if you were going to eat them, would it be legal?”, that would have been different. But instead you’re in here, in the General Questions Forum on a website devoted to Fighting Ignorance, and you’re saying, “Hey, guys, the Chinese are eating fetuses–is that legal?” And your ONLY cite for this is from an Urban Legends website.

If your OP was, “Is it legal to keep Bigfoot chained up in your garage?” and your only cite for the discussion was from a seemingly serious article thundering against people who consider Bigfoot a monster and want to chain it up in the garage, and if that cite turned out to be from an Urban Legends website, then I wouldn’t need Woodward and Bernstein to tell me that there probably aren’t people out there really abusing Sasquatches by chaining them up in their garages.

You’ve had your OP answered, Grienspace. “Yes, it’s probably legal to eat fetuses.”

Just can’t resist your racist innuendo can you.

DDG, you seem to be intent on turning this into an emotional argument. My post did not suggest that placenta=fetus, I’m only pointing out that placenta is a common ingredient in traditional chinese medicine. There is absolutely no value judgement. And for your information, yes, it is human placenta that is primarily used in chinese medicine. It is nutritionally very complete and loaded with hormones. There is nothing racist in pointing out that this is true. (For what it’s worth, this use of human placenta is not limited to China-- Western midwifery often has the mother eat the placenta after delivery to mitigate post-partum depression.) In China, it’s a bit different because it’s commodified. I’m sure that people with strong anti-abortion feelings mixed with a liberal amount of xenophobia are responsible for blowing it up into an “Aborted baby trade.”

Here’s a link to the straight dope about human placenta in chinese medicine.

I’m sure that the blithe description of human placenta as “sweet and salty” could potentially upset some sensitive people. There are plenty of things that are more repellent to me, though. Hell, people eat tripe and nobody even claims it’s beneficial. They just like it.

As for fetus-eating, does anybody believe for a second that this happens?