Federal law enforcement officials found several preserved fetuses in a Detroit warehouse that belonged to a man who sold human body parts, newly revealed photographs show.
Agents found the fetuses during a December 2013 raid of the warehouse, which belongs to businessman Arthur Rathburn.
The fetuses, which appear to have been in their second trimester, were submerged in a liquid that included human brain tissue.
Rathburn, a former body broker, is accused of defrauding customers by sending them diseased body parts. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial is set for January.
How Rathburn acquired the fetuses and what he intended to do with them is unclear.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that the photos discovered by Reuters were a direct insult to human dignity.
“The actions depicted in these photos are an insult to human dignity,” Goodlatte said. “[If individuals] violate federal laws and traffic in body parts of unborn children for monetary gain [they should be] held accountable.”
Reuters’ report noted that in the United States it is legal to buy and sell cadavers and other body parts except for organs used in transplants and certain fetal tissue. However, the multimillion dollar a year body parts industry operates with minimal regulation, which means that “in most states, including Michigan, public health authorities are not required to regularly inspect body broker facilities.”
For example, a reporter for Reuters was able to purchase two human heads and a cervical spine from Restore Life USA after sending just a couple of emails and paying “$900 plus shipping.”