Fact Check

Aborted Fetuses Found in Michigan Dumpster?

A graphic image shows fetuses found along a riverbank in Nepal, not fetuses discovered in a Dumpster behind a Michigan abortion clinic.

Published Feb 8, 2016

An image depicts multiple late-term aborted fetuses discovered in a dumpster behind a Michigan abortion clinic.
What's True

A photograph shows fetuses discovered along a riverbank in Nepal that were believed to be the product of illegal abortions.

What's False

A photograph shows aborted fetuses discovered in a Dumpster behind a Michigan abortion clinic.

A 1 February 2013 post on the Facebook page "Occupy This," with a photograph purportedly depicting "aborted babies found in garbage bags in dumpster behind abortion mill in Michigan," included the following description of the image's supposed background:

Aborted babies found in garbage bags in dumpster behind abortion mill in Michigan...This is what you call' Partial Birth abortion" where the child was about to be born and then you have some babies aborted before their time to be born... In latin Fetus means "Little one"

Absent from the post was information about the location where the photograph was taken (other than "Michigan"), the date on which the picture was taken, news reports confirming the purported incident (which appeared to clearly constitute improper disposal of medical waste and/or human remains), or anything else documenting that the photograph was accurately described.

A reverse image search quickly yielded better clues as to the image's origins and what it depicted. The photograph first appeared online (in connection with a prominent anti-abortion web site) in February 2010 and thus was three years old at the time it was posted to the "Occupy This" Facebook page.

News article links accompanying the picture's display in February 2010 were no longer operational in 2016, but page on which the photograph was posted indicated that the fetuses had been photographed in Nepal in January 2010 — information seemingly confirmed by a cached 6 January 2010 Nepal News article that reported the discovery of six human fetuses found along a riverbank in that country:

At least six human fetuses were found near the banks of Bishumati River in Kuleshwor, Kathmandu, leading authorities to suspect of foul play by private hospitals involved in illegal abortion.

The fetuses were found wrapped in a polythene bag near the banks of the river. Eyewitnesses said that the fetuses could be anywhere from four to five months.

Police suspect private hospitals and clinics involved in illegal abortion to have disposed of the fetuses and said that they have started an investigation into the case.

As such, the image was definitively not linked to the disposal of fetal tissue or human remains in Michigan (or anywhere else in the United States). The incident depicted occurred in January 2010 in Nepal and was investigated by local authorities as a possible crime (but might have involved stillbirths or instances of infanticide rather than abortions).

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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