Assemblywoman Fiona Ma: Truth Behind Cadaver Shows

When I was a San Francisco supervisor, the dead body exhibit "Universe Within" came to San Francisco displaying plastinated bodies that were mutilated and cut-up to reveal muscle tissue, organs and other body parts.

Many were intrigued by these exhibits for their educational purpose, but I knew something was wrong after noticing that the bodies on display were all "unclaimed bodies" from China and some were leaking.

With my constituents' support, I authored and passed an ordinance to prohibit the display of human bodies or remains for commercial purposes without the informed consent of the deceased or next-of-kin.

After being in the Assembly for a year, another exhibit, "Bodies Revealed," came to Sacramento and I immediately authored legislation, AB 1519, to prohibit their display in California unless an exhibitor could provide informed consent.

"Bodies Revealed" is a copycat of the Gunther Von Hagens exhibit called "Body Worlds," which was recently in San Jose. The major difference between the two is that Von Hagens' exhibits do not use bodies from China and that Von Hagens is capable of providing proof of consent for the bodies on display.

Recently, ABC's 20/20 aired a shocking investigative report, revealing an underground black market for unclaimed bodies including executed prisoners from China. The three month investigation also discovered that the bodies from "Bodies Revealed" were coming from a private plastination lab and not from a university like "Bodies Revealed" claims.

I know few people in China would voluntarily donate their organs or bodies due to the strong cultural and traditional preference of leaving their body intact for burial after death.

This 20/20 report provides strong evidence for why California needs my legislation. We must continue to protect human rights and support our culture of respecting the dead.

Grant Deadlines Looming
I also want to take a moment to let you know about two very important money saving opportunities with approaching deadlines - the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Cal Grants.

You may be eligible to receive thousands of dollars back from the federal government. Every year millions of dollars go unclaimed. EITC is a benefit for working people and families who earn low or moderate incomes. There are certain requirements to be eligible. Applying for the EITC is simple - just file your tax return. Write "EIC" in the space allocated on the 1040 or 1040A form and the IRS will figure out your return for you. If you have qualifying children, attach Schedule EIC to your form.

For more information, please visit If you need assistance with your tax return, please contact ACORN for free tax preparation assistance at (415) 587-9080.

Another great money saving opportunity is Cal Grants, which provide thousands of students with free money for college. The deadline is March 2. To apply for a Cal Grant, recent graduates must submit a Free Application for Student Aid and a GPA Verification Form by March 2. These forms can be found online at You can also call (888) CA-GRANT for more information.

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma is the majority whip at the California Assembly.