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  #1  
Old 01-24-2007, 01:39 PM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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Is it illegal to be in possession of a human body part?

One that is not and never was attached to you? Can I legally own a shrunken head? Can I make my own shrunken heads? For that matter could I constuct a whole human body using parts from various cadavers and then attempt to reanimate it using electricity harnessed from a lightning bolt? Would I incur any financial/tax liability by gaining the use of electricity for free while not being connected to the grid?

Because, you know. Just askin'.

Last edited by The Great Sun Jester; 01-24-2007 at 01:39 PM.. Reason: corrected abysmal spelling
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2007, 01:56 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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As far as I know, simple possession of a human body part is not illegal, as long as you can establish you came by it legally. You can buy human skulls and bones from biological supply houses, though real ones have gotten rather pricey. I think you can also probably buy a shrunken head, but an authentic human one is going to cost thousands of dollars.

In some jurisdictions there may be some laws concerning "abuse of a corpse" or some such; but ordinary possession of legally acquired body parts should not in itself be a problem.
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  #3  
Old 01-24-2007, 02:02 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Shrunken head auctioned by Christie's
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  #4  
Old 01-24-2007, 02:10 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Human skulls for sale
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  #5  
Old 01-24-2007, 02:12 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Not if all those toes used in drinks that showed up recently in a thread here were really human toes.
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  #6  
Old 01-24-2007, 02:18 PM
Sapo Sapo is offline
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Would reanimation be considered "abuse of a corpse"?
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  #7  
Old 01-24-2007, 02:20 PM
twickster twickster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sapo
Would reanimation be considered "abuse of a corpse"?
Depends what you do with it after it's reanimated.
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  #8  
Old 01-24-2007, 02:22 PM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Trust Google Ads...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Google Ads
Human Shrunken Heads
Authentic Human Shrunken Heads handmade in the Amazon by Jivaros.
www.salangome.com


Si
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  #9  
Old 01-24-2007, 02:24 PM
Kokopilau Kokopilau is offline
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I hope you mean "be in possession of a human body part other than any of your own", otherwise we're all in a lot of trouble.
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  #10  
Old 01-24-2007, 03:31 PM
TheLoadedDog TheLoadedDog is offline
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It seems that regularly, about every year or two, there's a newspaper story about a horrified person finding bits of cadaver in some guy's freezer and it turns out that the guy is a medical student who'd brought them home to study and it hadn't occurred to him that others might freak out.
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  #11  
Old 01-24-2007, 04:10 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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As long as the remains are not of Native Americans, you can possess them.
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  #12  
Old 01-24-2007, 04:12 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inigo Montoya
attempt to reanimate it using electricity harnessed from a lightning bolt?
So, Inigo, what's going on this weekend?

Remember to be carefull experimenting with lightning. Ben Franklin was lucky!
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  #13  
Old 01-24-2007, 07:13 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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si_blakely—Those particular heads are crafted from animal hides. (Maybe not CRUELTY free, but no human life lost.)

And I've gone to the Bone Room myself...I can confirm that, if I had the cash, I could drive down to Berkeley, buy an armload of human skeletons, and be back in time for lunch.
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  #14  
Old 01-25-2007, 05:37 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranchoth
si_blakely—Those particular heads are crafted from animal hides. (Maybe not CRUELTY free, but no human life lost.)
But the ad says authentic shrunken human heads. I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked

The Maori of New Zealand have made determined efforts over the 20 or so years to have mokomokai (tattooed preserved human heads) returned to maori ownership. While I agree with recovering such artifacts from private collections, I would hope that at least some can remain in museums, for research and historical purposes. And not all mokomokai are tribal history or revered ancestors. The Maori were enterprising folk who were not above tattooing and killing slaves to trade heads for guns.

Si
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  #15  
Old 01-25-2007, 07:11 AM
WotNot WotNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by si_blakely
The Maori of New Zealand have made determined efforts over the 20 or so years to have mokomokai (tattooed preserved human heads) returned to maori ownership. While I agree with recovering such artifacts from private collections, I would hope that at least some can remain in museums, for research and historical purposes. And not all mokomokai are tribal history or revered ancestors. The Maori were enterprising folk who were not above tattooing and killing slaves to trade heads for guns.
It occurs to me that they may still be enterprising folk, and that they may not be above campaigning for the return of mokomokai so that they can sell them to museums for research and historical purposes.
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  #16  
Old 01-25-2007, 07:23 AM
Loach Loach is online now
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Yes it can be illegal depending on how you get them and where you are.
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  #17  
Old 01-25-2007, 08:16 AM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loach
Yes it can be illegal depending on how you get them and where you are.
It's not at all clear from that story whether the illegal part was "keeping human body parts in her home." In the case of the hand, it would seem to have been obtained illegally, so that possession itself might be illegal. If she really purchased the skulls from a medical-supply catalog as alleged then there should not be anything illegal about possessing them, barring a local ordinance that prohibits keeping body parts in a private residence or some such.
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  #18  
Old 01-25-2007, 08:46 AM
Loach Loach is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
It's not at all clear from that story whether the illegal part was "keeping human body parts in her home." In the case of the hand, it would seem to have been obtained illegally, so that possession itself might be illegal. If she really purchased the skulls from a medical-supply catalog as alleged then there should not be anything illegal about possessing them, barring a local ordinance that prohibits keeping body parts in a private residence or some such.
She was charged with improper disposition of human remains under state law. I don't know what is going on with the case now, probably waiting for a court date. I tried to search for the statute but I gave up. New Jersey tries to make it as difficult as possible to find particular laws online.
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  #19  
Old 01-25-2007, 09:44 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
As far as I know, simple possession of a human body part is not illegal
All the folks I know are each in possession of pretty much an entire set of human body parts.
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  #20  
Old 01-25-2007, 10:17 AM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loach
She was charged with improper disposition of human remains under state law. I don't know what is going on with the case now, probably waiting for a court date. I tried to search for the statute but I gave up. New Jersey tries to make it as difficult as possible to find particular laws online.
Thanks. If she got the hand from a medical student as the article suggests, that no doubt would qualify. I would assume that there are regulations governing the disposition of cadavers used in medical school.

I used to teach Human Anatomy, but since it was for non-pre-meds we dissected cats instead of cadavers. But we had plenty of real human bones and other human body parts in jars around the lab.
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  #21  
Old 01-25-2007, 10:33 AM
Bippy the Beardless Bippy the Beardless is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranchoth
if I had the cash, I could drive down to Berkeley, buy an armload of human skeletons, and be back in time for lunch.
Planning on having soup for lunch?

If Human bones are so expensive, is it possible to have your own bones sold off as part of a will to benefit your heirs?

Last edited by Bippy the Beardless; 01-25-2007 at 10:34 AM.. Reason: fixed coding
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  #22  
Old 01-25-2007, 07:04 PM
bonzer bonzer is offline
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Under British law, the crucial recent case is that of Anthony-Noel Kelly, an artist who was charged, convicted and jailed for stealing body parts.

Traditionally in England the law didn't regard a body as a possession of anyone and hence something that couldn't be stolen. Once upon a time, this led to various work-arounds like bodysnatchers being prosecuted for nicking the burial clothes that happened to shroud the body they were carting off. Which in turn led to to the standard practice amongst snatchers of stripping the bodies of their clothing. (Ruth Richardson's 1988 classic Death, Dissection and the Destitute is stuffed full of such details.)
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  #23  
Old 01-25-2007, 09:50 PM
Crescend Crescend is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colibri
I used to teach Human Anatomy, but since it was for non-pre-meds we dissected cats instead of cadavers. But we had plenty of real human bones and other human body parts in jars around the lab.
One of the medical schools (NY State) I interviewed with gave students taking anatomy a box of human bones to study at home.
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  #24  
Old 01-26-2007, 03:28 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bippy the Beardless
If Human bones are so expensive, is it possible to have your own bones sold off as part of a will to benefit your heirs?
No need. Some unethical b******d will slice out your bones and sell them and stuff PVC pipes in your legs without you having to do a thing.

Si
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  #25  
Old 02-02-2007, 12:42 PM
Loach Loach is online now
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Here is the update for those who are interested. This is about the stripper and the body parts. It seems like the original charges of improper disposition of human remains were dropped after the origin of the parts were revealed during the investigation. I'm sure the biggest concern was to find out where the parts came from and if there was some other crime involved such as murder. It seems that the skulls were obtained legally. The hand was stolen by a then med student and he gave it to the stripper for a job well done. The doctor plead guilty to theft and she was charged with receiving stolen property. He is getting 5 years probation and can't apply for a medical license in New Jersey during that time (he is a resident in California so no big deal). She is going to enter a pre-trial intervention program which will clear her record if she doesn't commit any crimes.

Neither got to keep the hand.
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  #26  
Old 06-03-2013, 07:48 PM
MistressEviscia MistressEviscia is offline
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I have an odd question

I know this is old, but I hope someone might know the answer to the question I have.

I'm a Dominatrix and a slave of mine is going to be castrated by a surgeon. I want to know if it's legal for me to keep and plastinate his testicles. He'll be quite alive and well after the surgery, and he will give consent for me to own them. I know, it's weird, but it would be like a trophy in my line of work.

I appreciate any answers.
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  #27  
Old 06-03-2013, 09:10 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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Jesus Christ.
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  #28  
Old 06-03-2013, 09:14 PM
running coach running coach is offline
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That took balls.
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  #29  
Old 06-03-2013, 09:48 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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Thank you.
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  #30  
Old 06-03-2013, 10:43 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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MistressEviscia, if you indeed are on the level and your nonce username was chosen to match your first posting topic, welcome. Of all the threads of all the forum joints in the world.
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  #31  
Old 06-03-2013, 10:57 PM
Flywheel Flywheel is online now
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Have you considered asking Dennis Cooper?
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  #32  
Old 06-03-2013, 11:13 PM
Washoe Washoe is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MistressEviscia View Post
I want to know if it's legal for me to keep and plastinate his testicles.
Well, my wife took mine right after we got married, and not with my consent. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since.
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  #33  
Old 06-03-2013, 11:36 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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I think I spotted them in Brighton Beach. They're still on the run.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 06-03-2013 at 11:37 PM..
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  #34  
Old 06-03-2013, 11:52 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Well, you may wish to actually contact Gunther von Hagens himself for advice—he might not only be able to advise on the legal aspects, but perhaps also as an official go-between and be able to perform the actual plastination. (I don't know about the costs...perhaps he'd let you ameliorate the expenses by lending out the testicles for display on the next Body Worlds tour, or some such.
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  #35  
Old 06-04-2013, 01:25 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Greetings MistressEviscia and welcome to the Straight Dope message board!

IANAL, but...

It seems that MistressEviscia is asking for legal advice. Laws vary by state and even locality. So it probably would be best to consult with a lawyer outside of a message board setting.
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