The fetuses were not found recently, but rather in a 2013 raid of businessman Arthur Rathburn’s warehouse.
Rathburn, a former broker of body parts, has been accused of defrauding customers by sending them body parts that were diseased. He has pleaded not guilty and he is scheduled to stand trial in January.
It wasn’t clear how Rathburn acquired the fetuses or what he intended to do with them. And his lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.
Reuters noted that neither his indictment nor other public documents related to his case mention the fetuses.
Members of Congress were sickened and angry about the discovery of the fetuses.
â€œThis needs to be reviewed,â€ said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who recently chaired a special U.S. House committee on the use of fetal tissue.
Blackburn recoiled when a Reuters reporter showed her some of the photographs. Federal agents reportedly took the photos.
Photo credit: Reuters
In four of them, a crime scene investigator in a HAZMAT suit used a pair of forceps to lift the fetuses from the brownish liquid.
â€œThe actions depicted in these photos are an insult to human dignity,â€ said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
He added that if individuals â€œviolate federal laws and traffic in body parts of unborn children for monetary gain,â€ they should be â€œheld accountable.â€
Remarkably, the buying and selling of cadavers and other human body parts is widespread in the U.S. and virtually unregulated. However, trading in fetal tissue is a violation of federal law.
“Photos from inside Rathburnâ€™s warehouse offered a stark example of government failures to police the industry. They include images of rotting human heads, some floating face up in a plastic cooler,”Â ReutersÂ reported.
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