Can we consider this cannibalism? They're actually taking the flesh of an innocent human being. I believe fetuses are still human beings at the very early stage and they have the right to life although at some circumstances, their existence is negotiable (for example the fetus is a threat to a woman's life)
The Chinese really need to do some sort of major campaign to counteract all the quack medical cures they seem obsessed with. Driving tigers to extinction is horrible, but not exactly surprising, given the way humans in general treat animals in general and large predators in particular. But powdered dead babies - who comes up with this shit?
I hear there's a current fad in the US to fry placentas up like liver and eat them. Personally, unless you have reason to think you're malnourished, it seems unnecessary to me in this day and age, but you're right, Will, people the world over do love their quack cures.
I see them on the shelf of American stores and for some reason is not considered gross by some folks. Reminds me of Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed who bathed in the blood of virgins to keep a youthful appearance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_B%C3%A1thory
While I still find it extremely gross, it is noteworthy to state that the placenta shampoos use either animal placentas or plant "placentas," not human. The La Bella brand uses sheep placenta, which is the source used by most placenta shampoos. A brand that uses plant placentas (located just beneath the pistil of the flower) is Royal Placenta - so not quite what one might think from looking at the label.
There is a trend in the US for women to eat their own placentas after childbirth. It completely grosses me out - not sure what the supposed "benefit" is (if there truly is one - I tend to believe double-blind studies far more than subjective opinion). From what I've read (Washington Post article), women believe placenta consumption will prevent post-partum depression. The same article also mentions people sometimes make prints of the placenta as a keepsake - with its own blood or colored paint.
For the record, I am now thoroughly nauseated and don't feel like breakfast. This subject is excellent for my diet plan!