Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bodies: Rep Fleck Wants Them Respected

**UPDATE 3/11/08: 49 total co-sponsors to date. See new additions at bottom.

On Friday, PA State Rep Mike Fleck of Huntingdon & Mifflin Counties introduced HB2299 which would regulate the use of human remains in for-profit exhibitions like the one currently running at the Carnegie Science Center.

“Bodies: The Exhibition” and its counterpart “Bodyworlds” have caused controversy and outrage as they have moved across the country. The displayed cadavers in these exhibits are deceased Chinese individuals who many fear are executed political prisoners. The remains have passed through U.S. Customs under the questionable classification of “plastic models” and bodies at the Carnegie have no paperwork showing the deceased have given their permission to be sliced, diced and displayed for profit. The Science Center and other exhibitors only have the Chinese government’s “word” on the matter, and for many this is not nearly good enough.

Fleck’s bill seeks to interject a bit of sanity into this shockingly barbaric situation. As written, it 1) Seeks to regulate the public display of human remains so as to “protect individual bodily integrity as well as the social and cultural values of the Commonwealth.” 2) Requires that exhibitors provide evidence of informed consent from the deceased individual being displayed. 3) Requires county permitting for such exhibitions.

Fleck’s bill has been co-sponsored by representatives:
Matthew Baker (Bradford/Tioga Counties)
Robert Belfanti (Columbia/Montour/Northumberland Counties)
Kerry Benninghoff (Centre/Mifflin Counties)
Karen Beyer (Lehigh/Northampton Counties)
Karen Boback (Columbia/Luzerne/Wyoming Counties)
Scott Boyd (Lancaster County)
Joseph Brennan (Lehigh/Northampton Counties)
Martin Causer (Cameron/McKean/Potter Counties)
Paul Clymer (Bucks County)
Craig Dally (Northampton County)
Dan Frankel (Allegheny County)
Jaret Gibbons (Beaver/Butler/Lawrence Counties)
Robert Godshall (Montgomery County)
Neal Goodman (Schuylkill County)
Glen Grell (Cumberland County)
Tim Hennessey (Chester County)
John Hornaman (Erie County)
Rob Kauffman (Cumberland/Franklin Counties)
William Kortz (Allegheny County)
Daylin Leach (Montgomery County)
Tim Mahoney (Fayette County)
Barbara McIlvaine Smith (Chester County)
Daryl Metcalfe (Butler County)
Thomas Murt (Montgomery/Philadelphia Counties)
Bernie O’Neill (Bucks County)
Eddie Pashinski (Luzerne County)
Michael Peifer (Monroe/Pike/Wayne Counties)
Tina Pickett (Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna Counties)
Marguerite Quinn (Bucks County)
Kathy Rapp (Forest/McKean/Warren Counties)
Brad Roae (Crawford County)
Sam Rohrer (Berks County)
Stan Saylor (York County)
Mario Scavello (Monroe County)
Curt Schroder (Chester County)
John Siptroth (Monroe/Pike Counties)
Samuel Smith (Armstrong/Indiana/Jefferson Counties
Jerry Stern (Blair County)
Richard Stevenson (Butler/Mercer Counties)
RoseMarie Swanger (Lebanon County
Katie True (Lancaster County)
Randy Vulakovich (Allegheny County)
Katherine Watson (Bucks County)

This controversy grows by the day, but the Carnegie Science Center still stands by their exhibit. They will shut it down only if they have to.

“We have hosted this exhibition absolutely in line with existing state and federal guidelines. If that landscape changes, we'll continue to evaluate the situation and act accordingly," Science Center Director Joanna Haas said. "We certainly believe it's the Pennsylvania Legislature's right to legislate the use of human bodies and to create structures for such exhibits. We would certainly intend to comply with any legislative parameters that may be put into place."

Okay, so let’s change the landscape and put these bodies to rest. Contact your local representative and tell him/her to support this bill. A listing of representatives by district number and their contact info can be found here.

************** UPDATE 3/11/08 *************

The following representatives have added their support to the bill:
Michele Brooks (Crawford/Lawrence/Mercer Counties)
Mauree Gingrich (Lebanon County)
Sandra Major (Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming Counties)
Bob Mensch (Montgomery County)
Rosita Youngblood (Philadelphia County)

Co-sponsors to date: 49


Anonymous said...

I fear the bill is not hard enough to shut the exhibits down... but I suppose it's a start? But if all we are asking for is paper work... then what is to stop the exhibators from falsifying documents... if they are cruel enough to do what they do... they are cold enough to lie. Then how do we stop them?

Isn't our goal to stop them completely? The wording in the bill should be plain and straight... to prohibit any such exhibits... completely! The shows are extremely disrespectful to the non-consenting murdered Chinese people... and this truth (OR high suspicion to the fact, with a lot of proof already)... should be grounds enough to write a bill shaped to shut them down completely.

If we make it too easy for them... they will gladly jump through the hoops...as long as they are allowed (through paperwork) to continue. The bill should simply be worded as such... "1) The exhibition of cadavers for profit is deemed illegal by the state of _______ , and the lawbreakers will be proscecuted and fined $750,000 and given a jail term of up to 20 years. 2) Any person, group, company or exhibitor who is presently exhibiting cadavers will be given two weeks to disassemble their show, and respectfully return the bodies and body parts, for burial, to the families of the cadavers. If there is no family or records to be found, the bodies must be given a proper burial either in the US or in China. 3) All bodies will be given by the exhibitors to a legitamate Funeral home or Funeral homes, where the bodies and body parts will be given a proper burial, paid for by the exhibitors. 3) All funeral records of where the bodies and body parts are taken to, within the US, will then be given to the state of _______ Governor_______ office, to check that proper arrangements were made for the burials of the deceased. 4) Let is be known that any present or future cadaver exhibits for profit within this state of _______ is deemed totally illegal and will not be tolerated in any form, shape or manner. 4) In addition the sale of body parts to any individuals, especially to the non-research, non-medical fields, will be prosecuted, fined and jailed as the forementioned exhibitor.... up to $750,000 and a jail term of up to 20 years.

The governor's office within each state should contact any present or future coming exhibits of the new law giving them two weeks to comply or they will be arrested and prosecuted for breaking the law.

Shouldn't it be this simple? Why should we give the exhibitors any leeway.

Let's shut the shows down completely!

Thank you,
Carol Dickinson
Houston, TX

Char said...

I think it is a start .... and a good one. FYI, the wording in PA's bill has been drafted to mirror that in Rep Fiona Ma's bill in CA:

Yes, I think whoever is disgusting enough to peddle exhibits like this in the first place would have no qualms about falsifying consent papers. But I think the other 2 provisions in the bill also provide pretty toothy hurdles:

1) "Protect the individual bodily integrity as well as the social and cultural values of the Commonwealth." That pretty much allows any county the right to deny a permit, regardless of falsified consent papers, "just because."

2) Requiring a permit from the county puts these exhibits squarely in the domain of the health department. Most all health departments already have stringent rules on the books as to who may handle a dead body, who may display a dead body and how that can be done. (Mostly just licensed funeral directors and/or anatomists in medical schools)

So, I think the three hurdles an exhibitor must overcome as provided by this bill in PA will be enough to stop most if not all of these "educational" shows.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I'm going to go to the exhibit now.

In my humble opinion, we need to fight for the rights of the people that are still alive. Those are too frail. Keep your eye on the ball.

When the rights of the dead rise in attention and law-making fussing -- then we are in T R O U B L E.

Anonymous said...


You wouldn't happen to be affiliated or payed by the exhibitors or creators of the dead body exhibits are you? To say you are humble might be true but to not care for those, as in the holocaust, who were slaughtered for the sake of predjudice or greed... in the case of the shows it is greed... then I must give you another label in my humble opinion. You neither care for not are conserned for your fellow man living or dead... for because of the show being here it encourages more shows and more shows thus causing more murder and more murder of the living. The whole point is to shut the shows down so as to stop the whole business which feeds the roots of this murder monster. When you buy a ticket you are saying..."Yes contiinue disrespecting and murdering people, now and in the future." Mark are you that selfish... that all you can think about is your own needs, your own curiosity. Go to medical school or a public Medical Library. There are plenty of photographs of lungs before and after lung cancer... that our up close and convincing enough to stop smoking. Have some compassion for others. It's not all about you and your needs. Can't you see the horror in what the exhibits are doing. They are plain, straight and simply numbing the senses of our society, as what happened in pre-Holocaust Germany, to except anything, tolerate everything, and say nothing! This is EXTREMELY dangerous folks. Did you know this type of behavior is what happened in Germany right before annialation of 12 million innocent people. Mark where are your feelings concerning what happened during the Holocaust? Is it still 'humbly" uncaring? If a society disrespects the dead where are the fences to stop them disrespect the living. America is not immune to anything... especially when we accept everything... without question. Let us be courtious to all people... least our humble and gracious and caring selves. Consider others more important than yourself.

Take care,

P.S. Don't take any trips to China alone... and get hit by a car and die... you may be in the next exhibit... in the next town round the corner to your mothers house in the good ol' U S of A. But she won't be able to notice you because all your skin will be gone and your posed in the position of playing tennis... with some of your muscles splayed out like abstract wings. Your head maybe gone... or maybe it will just be your head on display... cause the rest of you is somewhere else... not quite sure. Is that ok Mark? Don't mean to offend you. But if it hurts someone else... tell me... why would it not also hurt you too? If our fellow man cries... we should cry with him... if our fellow man rejoices we should rejoice with him... just don't get the two confused. Don't rejoice when our fellow man is crying. Thank you. There is a proper time and place for everything... but these exhibits or not it... they are neither proper nor in the right place. For medical research and study in proper medical invironments... but NOT for profit to curious joe to quawk at as at a SIDE FREAK SHOW AT THE CIRCUS for the price of a ticket! This behaviour deadens social graces and is down right discourtous to the dead. They may even what to be used after death... but even though a person may consent to being plasticized, de-headed or de-membered ... we STILL on this side of life... have the duty to respect them after life and not display them like the in a circus freak show. Wow to a SOCIETY that continues to do disrespect the dead in such a freakess way... and for money! Mark can't you see it's all about G-R-E-E-D! I am sorry but I have to wholeheartidly disagree with your last sentence..."When the rights of the dead rise in attention..." Well... they were dead before they were dead... and that is what we are mainly focusing.... to stop the shows... thus stop the murderous creators in their path. Did you know the father of the first inventor and creator of the dead body shows was a nazi during the Holocaust? Did you know that he was born in 1945 right in the midst of all the death camps and killing of millions of innocent people. Now wonder this poor child developed a warped sense of right and wrong... death was like life to him... he became fascinated with working with the dead and invented the process. He opened his first exhibit next to a church in Germany... if the church didn't make a fuss about the exhibition of the dead for the price of a ticket... then he felt he had it made... and could open up exhibits everywhere. He later was basically kicked out of Germany where he moved to China and opened up a body factory NEAR his constant supply of his much needed natural resource... dead bodies. He was not told where they came from... but he was glad to have them... he didn't care where they come from or how they died. Don't you think this ODD! He was named Dr. Frankenstien in England when he did open autopcies for the public to view... and seven of his bodies in the dead body exhibits had to be returned to China... they found BULLET HOLES in the back of the neck of all 7 bodies. Are you creeped out yet. I could go on and on... I have been researching this death industry...and it IS a DEATH INDUSTRY for 2 years now... and it is only getting worse. They are now offering the public a chance to buy a real dead body part for their own home to be displayed. Mark are you even getting this yet? You give them an inch and they take a mile. We have to, as a decent and God fearing nation cut this evil thing, like a cancer, out of our presence. It has no meaning nor does it make any sense. It plainly FOR FULL VIEW DISPRESPECTS the dead... THUS DISRESPECTS THE LIVING! IT IS NUMBING OUR SOCIETY! THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST THINGS MANKIND HAS EVER EVER EVER DONE! BAR NONE!!!!!

Char said...

I received the following comment .... but the anonymous commenter obviously left his remarks in the wrong (non-Bodies) post.

So, I'm reposting it here, where it should have been, along with my response:

Anonymous said...
Has Rep. Fleck even SEEN the exhibit?
March 27, 2008 2:54 PM

Char said...
I presume you are talking about the Bodies exhibit.

I don't know if Fleck has seen it. I have NOT seen it. The largest point of opposition to this exhibit is that the individuals displayed are very likely Chinese political prisoners who were likely killed JUST TO harvest their organs for China's black market organ transplant market and then turn the bodies into an additional money-making commodity.

If that is true, which it LIKELY is .... please take the time to read and research this yourself ... what this exhibit "looks" like, however "educational" it may or may not be ..... is not the central legal point.

If each body were accompanied by verifiable paperwork showing that the deceased willed his body to science, the state, the exhibit promoters, whoever, to do with it as they wanted ..... Then yes, there would be less of a debate.

I think there would still be a debate. One that people like me would lose. Because I think posing skinned & flayed dead bodies in needlessly sensational positions which add nothing to the educational value but everything to the shock value (I have seen pictures).....I personally think this is more of an obscenity than nude bars, for instance. Or XXX movies.

But alas, we are all so desensitized, less and less is deemed obscene.

Rabbi Daniel Schiff asked an interesting question ... If his last will & testament specifically stated that he wanted his dead body to be cut up and sold for consumption at the local butcher shop, would/should that be legal? Of course not. The illegal status is not due to any health reasons. No, cannibalism is illegal because society has decided a certain amount of reverence and respect must be afforded all humans (dead or alive) in order for the society to remain a civilized one.

Which is why I think these exhibits are both illegal and obscene. But that's my opinion. And differing opinions between different people can and will be debated ad infinitum.

What I would think CAN'T be debated is whether or not the US should aid and abet a criminally barbaric regime by providing them with a lucrative marketplace for the remnants of their horrific crimes against their citizens and all of humanity.
March 27, 2008 4:31 PM

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