In A Nutshell
Chinese pharmaceutical companies have begun a trade in “stamina booster” pills that are made from the ground-up remains of aborted human fetuses. South Korean customs agents have seized thousands of the pills as they stream across the border, a cannibal cure-all said to have many health benefits.
The Whole Bushel
Chinese traditional medicine often calls for bizarre, even horrifying ingredients, such as ground-up rhinoceros horn and bile milked from the gall bladders of Asian black bears. But in 2011, an infinitely more vile discovery was made by South Korean customs agents inspecting imported shipments from China—pills made from the ground remnants of human fetuses were being labeled as “stamina boosters.”
Aborted or stillborn babies are used for this horrifying practice. Their bodies are dried out in medical microwaves, then pulverized and turned into pills. These pills are described as a kind of snake oil “cure-all” designed for a wide range of ailments from rheumatoid arthritis to heart disease. There is no shortage of supply for this disgusting practice: Because of China’s strict one-child policy, some 13 million abortions are performed in the country each year, some of them forcibly administered by the government. There is also concern that the fetus pills come from China’s infamous “dying rooms”—orphanage facilities where unwanted babies (typically girls) are sent to essentially starve to death.
DNA tests on the pills, which have been confiscated in the thousands, reveal them to be 99.7 percent human tissue. Not surprisingly, the pills were also found to be teeming with bacteria. Acts of cannibalism carry with them serious health risks, including neurodegenerative prion diseases such as kuru (believed to be a variant of mad cow disease, suffered by the Fore people of Papua New Guinea). Prion diseases are caused by misfolded proteins that replicate and eventually destroy the nervous system.
South Korea has become vigilant in their crackdown on the pills, finding at least 17,500 of them in mail parcels and luggage. Thus far, it appears that the fetus pills can be traced to the northern Chinese cities of Yanji, Jilin, Qingdao, and Tianjin, which sit near the border with Korea and are busy hubs of import.