Akin is outraged. "That is the same rhetoric that oppressive governments around the world have used to dehumanize people. This is a human body. Just because you infuse plastic into it does not change that," he said.
Akin's bill would not affect current shows because the remains are already here. It does not single out any particular bodies exhibit or company that performs plastination. Under the bill, only bodies donated and plastinated domestically would be legal to display. Penalty for importation of plastinated bodies would be a fine of up to $10,000 per violation.
Other companies that would be affected include Corcoran Laboratories, a Michigan-based company that imports plastinated body parts from China and advertises them on their Web site to the public. They also sell the plastinated parts to medical schools for teaching purposes.
Gunther von Hagens who invented the plastination process puts on another show featuring plastinated bodies called "Body Worlds." He, too, would be affected as his plastination factory is located on the German-Polish border. Von Hagens says all his bodies are donated and that he no longer works with corpses obtained from China.
The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. No hearings have yet been scheduled.
California and Pennsylvania state representatives have introduced bills requiring the exhibitions to provide documentation proving that each body on display comes from a person who legally consented. The Pennsylvania bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee while the California bill is on the State Senate floor.