May 19, 2024

Scandal over stored foetuses in Paris

A French woman searching for confirmation that the child she had aborted in 2002 had been cremated has unveiled the illegal practice of storing foetuses and stillborn children for research. Investigators found the remains of 351 children in a morgue at Saint Vincent de Paul Hospital in southern Paris. Some had been there for 20 years, although French law currently stipulates that the bodies of unclaimed stillborn children be cremated within 10 days. Foetuses cannot be used for medical research without the consent of parents and must still be cremated within six months. Health Minister Xavier Bertrand visited the morgue and said that he was shocked by the sight of so many bodies in bottles of formaldehyde. The hospital has not explained who kept the remains, or why.

The scandal may spread even further. “I think that there are foetuses and stillborn infants in all maternity wards at university hospitals,” said Dr Axel Kahn, a member of France’s national ethics committee. “Once it was the norm… Researchers who needed them for their work asked obstetricians not to dispose of them.”