What is trafficking? - An Overview

Baby body-parts trafficking is the business of buying and selling the body parts, organs, tissue, skin, and blood from aborted babies whose gestational ages range from a few weeks to full term (up to nine months). The transfer of baby body-parts takes place in a variety of ways, and is accomplished in order to benefit researchers at universities, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies. Many public and private universities contract directly with local abortion facilities to purchase specific parts from aborted babies needed for their own research. In some cases, hospitals and abortion clinics use national collection services as middlemen to pick up undifferentiated baby remains. These collectors create "fetal tissue banks" for the purpose of selling nationally and globally baby remains which they have picked through for parts, organs, and tissue that is in demand by researchers. In other cases, tissue-suppliers place their own trained "harvesters" on-site at abortion clinics, pursuant to direct contractual arrangements with abortion providers. These providers often fill orders that are placed in advance by researchers wanting specific baby parts on an ongoing basis. Some tissue providers promote sales by means of unapologetic and undisguised literature that markets their "product"-harvested baby parts-like any other consumer product.

Quote taken directly from order by researcher with tissue harvesting company:

"Whole intact leg, include entire hip joint. 22- to 24-weeks gestation. Sterile. Age of fetus must be determined and noted. Indicate foot pad measurement. 4-6 specimens per shipment. Preparation: Wet ice. Procedure: To be removed from fetal cadaver within 10 minutes. Shipping: Ship on wet ice. Next day. No abnormalities. Date: 3/95"-Order placed by a medical school [name withheld].

SOURCE: Life Dynamics, Inc.
(See "Quick Links" Icon for information on Life Dynamics, Inc.)

Quote taken directly from tissue harvesting company's sales literature:

Cover page has graphics of company's name [withheld] followed by tag-line:

"In The Beginning…"

"Thank you for choosing [company's name withheld] for Fetal Tissue. We are very pleased to provide you with our services. Our goal is to offer you and your staff the highest quality, most affordable, and freshest tissue prepared to your specifications and delivered in the quantities you need when you need it…We have over ten years experience in tissue harvesting and preservation…We have simplified the process for procuring fetal tissue."

Exact quote from "Fee for Services Schedule":

"Brain (less than 8 weeks) $999 30% Discount if significantly fragmented"
"Brain (greater than 8 weeks) $150 30% Discount if significantly fragmented"
"Intact trunk (w/, w/o limbs) $500"
                "Prices in effect through December 31, 1999."

SOURCE: Life Dynamics, Inc.

The baby body-parts trafficking industry is flourishing in the United States due to numerous factors. In 1993, President Clinton signed an executive order that lifted the ban on the use of federal funds for fetal tissue research. Lacking the restraining effect of this ban, the marketplace in fetal tissue has exploded.

There is a wide range of abortion methods which result in baby parts and tissue suitable for resale. For a detailed listing and descriptions of current and evolving abortion techniques, go to http://www.prolife.about.com/newsisssues/prolife/msubtechniques.htm. At this address, click on "Carhart Testimony" to find a graphic description given by abortionist Dr. Leroy Carhart of Omaha of his own techniques of dismembering not-yet-born babies. This explanation by Dr. Carhart was given in a sworn deposition, in response to inquiries by the Attorney General of the State of Nebraska regarding Dr. Carhart's activities as supplier of baby body-parts to researchers at the University of Nebraska. The partial-birth abortion procedure, which results in an intact corpse, is particularly suited to be a source of supply for the growing demand for human tissue by researchers and universities. This rogue procedure, which appeared on the medical scene in the 1980's, was devised by abortionists who lacked a non-surgical, yet late-term abortion method. Partial-birth abortion as a medical procedure made its way into the mainstream medical establishment, not through medical schools, but by means of presentations given to abortion providers at their annual conventions. The partial-birth procedure, which can be used in both 2nd or 3rd trimester abortions, produces a "product" that is uniquely suited for harvesting on behalf of researchers: It uses no chemicals and it results in an intact corpse.

The baby body-parts trafficking business also has grown because it provides abortion clinics a needed profit-center which can offset declining earnings. The average price charged for an abortion (about $300) has remained steady since 1973. In addition, demand for abortion began to decline in the 1990's, and operating costs have risen. Since 1996, the number of abortion clinics in the United States has decreased by 40%. Consequently, many abortion providers are now augmenting their income by the sale of babies' corpses. It is worth noting that, in the past, disposal of aborted corpses was a cost of doing business for abortion providers.

While it is unlawful in the United States to sell human body parts, it is legal, under the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, to use "donated" fetal tissue for research. Further, it is legal to make "reasonable payments" associated with the "transportation, processing, preservation, or storage of human fetal tissue." Clearly, these provisions have been exploited in order to circumvent the federal prohibition of the sale of human tissue. An underworld of trafficking in baby body-parts has been recently exposed, both through eyewitness reports by former harvesters, as well as through leaked documents detailing arrangements for ordering and procurement. An elaborate scheme is in operation that supports this grotesque industry.

Some abortion providers claim to "donate" baby body-parts to harvesters and collectors, who act as middlemen, or to researchers directly. Collectors and harvesters, in turn, claim that they demand reimbursement from their customers solely for "services" for which they may legally receive payment. In cases where an abortion clinic receives a "site fee" from a harvester, in return for the harvester's on-site access to the bodies of the aborted babies, the abortion clinic claims that the harvested body-parts are "donated." Then, in turn, researchers claim to pay the harvesters solely for the "costs" associated with the transfer of the baby body-parts that they have ordered (often in advance and/or in standing orders). In cases where abortion-providers contract directly with researchers-often working for universities-it is unknowable what terms have been mutually arranged.

Abortion providers whose clinics traffic in baby body-parts-especially those with standing orders that necessitate partial-birth abortion-have a clear conflict of interest between their ethical duties toward one set of customers (the mothers) and their commitment to supply body-parts to another set of customers (the harvesters, researchers, etc.). Some mothers have attested to having signed forms stating that they agree to donate the remains of their babies, without having been notified by the abortionist of the compensation he will receive due to her "donation."

Carefully crafted business arrangements and disingenuous language are being utilized in order to circumvent existing federal law, whose clear intent is to prohibit enterprise that profits from commerce in human tissue. An example of the transparency of these schemes is a "Fees for Services Schedule" published by one harvesting company. The quoted price of "reimbursement" for the transfer of a brain is $999, while "reimbursement" for the transfer of an intestine is $50. On what reasonable grounds can this difference in prices be justified, when the difference in costs associated with harvesting and handling is negligible? The obvious explanation for the difference in prices is that this difference reflects the market value (profit) of the body-parts themselves, not the minor differences between costs of transfer. A surprisingly open and unrestrained system of what is manifestly the buying and selling of human bodies is in operation in our nation.