A San Francisco cosmetics company, Neocutis, has admitted that it used cells from an aborted male foetus as an ingredient in a beauty cream. The Swiss product is manufactured from patented processed skin proteins (PSP), and is used for conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, and, unsurprisingly, ageing. It is controversial because the proteins were obtained from a postage stamp-sized rectangle of skin taken from a terminated 14-week old male foetus in Switzerland.
Anti-abortion groups were particularly scandalised by the company’s brazenness in defending the use of aborted tissue in beauty creams. Neocutis contends that harvesting the skin cells was responsible and ethical. “The small skin donation” taken to develop this cosmetic treatment “originated from a single terminated pregnancy that could not survive to term and that was deemed medically necessary by the attending physicians.” The company compared this use of foetal tissue to the 1954 Nobel Prize, which was awarded to “researchers who utilized fetal kidney cells to develop the polio vaccine.”
The PSP is used in Neocutis bio-restorative skin cream, Journée bio-restorative day cream, Lumière bio-restorative eye cream and Bio-gel bio-restorative hydrogel. The Neocutis website says that “Through years of research, physicians [have] discovered fetal skin has a unique ability to heal wounds without scarring.”
The moral status of foetal material is widely disputed. For some, as an entry in the American Journal of Bioethics Blog suggests, “foetal proteins in a face cream aren't any different from animal or plant protein because for them the moral status of the aborted foetus doesn't have the moral status to give one concern if consent to both abortion and research took place.”
On the other hand, the Vatican discussed the use of “biological material of illicit origin” in its recent statement on bioethics, Dignitas Personae. This insisted that “The corpses of human embryos and fetuses, whether they have been deliberately aborted or not, must be respected just as the remains of other human beings.” ~ Washington Times, Nov 3,