Bodies Of Evidence

Posted: October 08, 2007

THE FUNERAL home operators and their cronies who illegally harvested human bodies and sold them for parts, indicted last week by a grand jury, perpetrated enough stomach-turning crimes to last well beyond Halloween, or the next installment of "Saw."

Even the words -- "diseased body parts" "mutilated corpses" "infected tissue" - are horrifying.

The grand jury recommended the defendants and two businesses be charged with more than 10,000 counts. District Attorney Lynne Abraham filed 4,000 counts against the group for their disgusting abuse of the dead. The story first surfaced in a Daily News series.

The group treated the dead in their care like cars good only for parts - stolen cars, at that - cutting up bodies without consent from families, oversight or safety concerns, and selling them for profit.

The grand jury did a fine job in their indictments, and a particularly laudable job in proposing a list of necessary reforms. Some of those include prohibiting funeral homes from performing tissue recovery, requiring tissue agencies to be certified and licensed by the state, and strengthening the Food and Drug Administration's auditing capabilities.

What's as horrifying as the case of these inhuman vultures is how easily it was for them to get away with it for so long. The idea of diseased tissue being available on the open market without the minimum scrutiny speaks to a larger crime, but one that should now get the attention it deserves. Hundreds of families who received the diseased tissue have brought lawsuits, now pending.

We urge lawmakers in Harrisburg to move on these recommended state reforms, and to push for other necessary federal regulations.

Too bad there aren't laws punishing those whose crimes offend the human soul; as it is, these men's acts show they have neither hearts nor souls of their own. *

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