Who ‘owns’ a human placenta?

You might think that, in the eyes of the law, you ‘own’ your body and all its constituent parts. Think again.

“Most women would be stunned to discover that the law does not consider a piece of their body to be their property”

That’s when the body part under consideration is a placenta. This perplexing situation is examined in detail in a new paper by Amber Goeden of the Concordia University School of Law, Idaho, US, who points out, in an article for Concordia Law Review, that :

“Through the ages, the placenta has been used for many cultural practices, including placentophagy. With an interest in the medicinal benefits of placentophagy, there is a renewed interest in the practice, which has increased the requests for the placenta after birth. This has created an inconsistency in hospital procedures, either requiring women to obtain court orders to receive their placentas or forcing a physician to choose to bypass hospital regulations and give it directly to the patient.“

There are currently only three US states where the situation has been properly clarified (in the remaining ones, the position is currently ‘undefined’.)

“Texas, Oregon, and Hawaii have already recognized a woman’s interest in her placenta. Each state has created statutory requirements, which, once met, allow a woman to take her placenta home. While these states agree that a woman should have access to her placenta, statutes vary between the states.“

See : Concordia Law Review, Volume 3 Number 1, 2018, Article 6, ‘Placentophagy: A Women’s Right to Her Placenta’

Note : The article specifically addresses the current legal situation in the US. In other countries the applicable laws might vary considerably. If you have any documented info. on the legal status in other countries, please do let us know.

BONUS assignment [optional] : If a ‘body part’ is voluntarily discarded by its previous owner – for example hair in a hair salon, or a decayed tooth at the dentist’s, does its ‘ownership’ change? If so when?