Friday, August 1, 2008

Rep. Marcus Oshiro Supports Pennsylvania Bill on Display of Human Remains

Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Fleck, who serves District 81 consisting of Blair, Huntingdon and Miflin Counties, has introduced a bill in the General Assembly of Pennsylvania providing for the commercial display of human remains. HB2299 will go before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, August 5th, and Rep. Fleck asked Hawaii's Rep. Marcus Oshiro to provide supportive testimony.

The bill covers exhibitions like the current "Bodies" display at Ala Moana Center. It requires that the county may issue a permit for a display of human remains provided that there is valid written authorization to display human remains for consideration from either: (1) The decedent including, but not limited to, authorization given by will. (2) Any person authorized to make an anatomical gift.

Rep. Oshiro has taken the position that such displays are unethical and exploitative. In his testimony he writes:

In other words, it's educational or health related values do not outweigh the moral and ethical concerns regarding the possible exploitation of unconsenting human beings. As such, there should be a law that would prohibit the exhibition of human remains and/or body parts without the consent of the donor. The issue of people selling, donating, or gifting their bodies for a commercial purpose is important, but not germane to the central concern I have regarding consent or lack thereof. In this instance, it is questionable that consent was given by these people and if so, whether the people understood they they would be plasticized and propped up and enhibited in this manner.

In Hawaii, I will proposing similar legislation to HB2299 that would prohibit and/or regulated this type of exhibtion at the next legislative session. I will be watching in earnest as to the progress of the U.S. Congress, California and Pennsylvania Legislature as they deliberate on legislation to also ban and/or regulate the exhibition of human bodies.

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