Press Releases

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher and Colleagues Introduce Bicameral, Bipartisan Bill To Protect Dignity of Those Who Donate Their Bodies to Education or Research

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) introduced the bipartisan Consensual Donation and Research Integrity Act.  This legislation establishes standards for registration, inspection, chain of custody, labeling and packing, and proper disposition of donated bodies, to ensure bad actors are unable to take advantage of donors and their families.  Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) also introduced this legislation in the U.S. Senate.

“Families who choose to donate a loved one’s body for scientific research or educational use do so believing that they are benefitting others and that their loved ones will be treated with dignity and respect,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher.  “Sadly, many families have been taken advantage of by a largely unregulated industry.  I am glad to partner with Congressman Bilirakis, Senator Murphy, and Senator Tillis to ensure that donor bodies are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, while providing accountability and transparency.”

“This important legislation provides safeguards to ensure that human remains are disposed of in a manner that preserves the dignity and choices of the patient or next of kin,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis.  “The industry has been largely unregulated and sadly many families have been exploited for profit.  Our bill gives family members the peace of mind of knowing that their wishes are being honored.” 

“It’s deeply disturbing that this industry is allowing cadavers that have been donated for education or research to be exploited for profit,” said Senator Chris Murphy.  “Grieving families deserve peace of mind that their loved one’s remains are being treated with dignity.  This legislation would create desperately-needed regulations to increase transparency and stop bad actors from committing these gross abuses.”

"Most Americans would be shocked to learn that there is a for-profit body broker industry that creates significant ethical dilemmas and public health threats because of a lack of regulation," said Senator Thom Tillis. "This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will introduce much-needed accountability and regulatory oversight to protect public health and ensure that donors and their families are treated with respect and dignity."

While the process for donating a body for the purpose of organ donation is highly regulated and transparent, there is no federal law—and few state laws—governing the donating of a body or body parts for scientific research or educational uses.  In most states, it remains legal to sell the human remains of adults, and under current law, almost anyone—regardless of expertise—can dissect and sell human body parts.  Reports have shown that widespread problems, abuses, and issues exist within the body broker industry.

To view the full text of the bill, click here.