24. “Fetal Traffic”

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Few women realize it, but when they make their decision to undergo an abortion, they may be participants, involuntarily, in U. S. military experi­ments.

It is a surprisingly common practice for doctors to take freshly aborted fetuses and prepare them for sale. If the fetus is well developed so that body parts are identifiable, the doctor will cut away the desired parts and place them in plastic containers with ice.

“Free flowing human cells” are sold, subsequently, to drug companies, research hospitals, and agencies of the U. S. government.

The U. S. government is the largest purchaser of fetal material. It has been estimated that the usage of fetuses in the U. S., in this manner, numbers between 20,000-100,000 yearly.

While fetal material may be an integral part in medical research, the role of the U. S. government has not been thoroughly examined. The study of rare diseases, some of which has a bearing on bacterial warfare research, has been going on for some time. According to a South Korean doctor, organs such as livers and kidneys were shipped from South Korean hospitals to Fort Detrick, Maryland; this is a Chemical Bacterial Warfare (CBW) station. The military has an interest in using such human samples for testing; they are apparently searching for a cure for a disease called hemorrhagic fever. This is indigenous to the South Korean area and the Asiatic portion of the Soviet Union. This disease can kill six out of every one hundred infected. If it fails to kill, it can immobilize a person up to six months. Outside of the use of fetal material for hemorrhagic fever research, the only other source for study was the rhesus monkey.

District of Columbia doctors reportedly have made monetary gains by encouraging abortions on women, especially welfare recipients. Moreover, D.C. General Hospital doctors may have encouraged abortions on women well beyond the third month of pregnancy. This practice keeps a steady supply of fetal material flowing to all sources. It is against the U. S. Code for doctors to receive monies for any work such as this (Federal district doctors only).

The fetal traffic has been happening in the United States for some time. It has even involved foreign countries, like South Korea. Little publicity has been given to this activity, and as a result this story is being nominated for one of the “best censored stories of 1977.”


“The Secret World Trade in Human Foetuses,” by Alexander Cockburn and James Ridgway, The Village Voice, March 21, 1977, pp. 34-35.

“Fetuses in War Testing,” Frontlines, Mother Jones, June, 1977, p. 5.