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Are Aborted Fetuses Used in Cosmetics?

By Brian Clowes, PhD

From time to time we hear stories alleging that American abortion mills are selling aborted babies to major cosmetic companies so that they may be “rendered” for their collagen—the main protein component of connective tissue.

This rumor is persistent and seems to have a life of its own, but as of this writing [January 2022], we have no proof that any US companies use aborted fetal cells in cosmetics, and pro-lifers have never documented any cases of collagen from freshly aborted babies being used in cosmetics in the United States.

However, human collagen from placentas is used extensively in surgical procedures, particularly in cosmetic surgery and in the treatment of severe burns. A number of cosmetic companies also use placentas in their beauty products.

A normal full-term human placenta weighs two pounds—about one hundred times more than a preborn child aborted at eleven weeks. Placentas from cows, goats, sheep, and yes, humans are used in many cosmetics, but there is nothing illegal or immoral about this practice. Hospitals and slaughterhouses commonly sell bulk placentas to pharmaceutical companies and cosmetic companies, which then extract hormones and proteins from them for use in hair-care products—which supposedly make hair stronger and shinier—and lotions, which are advertised as making skin smoother and suppler.1

It is true that cell lines from babies aborted long ago are currently being used in certain vaccines in the United States. According to guidelines published by the Pontifical Academy for Life, when recipients have no ethical alternative, the reception of these vaccines can sometimes be morally licit. (For a more complete explanation of when and why, see “Are There Remains of Aborted Babies Used in Vaccines?” at

But the situation regarding vaccines is different from that of cosmetics. Vaccines can save lives; cosmetics cannot. Vaccines are used in the service of humanity; cosmetics serve only human vanity. Hence, we have an obligation to oppose the disgusting practice of using aborted fetal tissue in cosmetics.

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