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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:34 p.m., Friday, April 21, 2006

Lingle signs bill allowing release of placenta to parents

Associated Press

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a bill today allowing hospitals to release the placenta, the organ that connects mother and child in the womb, to a birth mother.

The legislation came after several Hawaiian couples found they would not be allowed to take the placenta — known as 'iewe in Hawaiian — from the hospital in order to perform an essential, traditional ceremony.

In Hawaiian belief, the 'iewe is considered a part of the child. Ceremonies in the islands include burying the 'iewe under a tree, so that the growth of the tree can be used to better understand psychological and spiritual changes in the child.

However, according to the state Department of Health, state rules regulating blood-bearing products prohibited taking the placenta from the hospital.

The conflict resulted in a federal lawsuit that was later dismissed.

Under the new law, the placenta could be released to the mother, or someone else she has chosen, after a test of the mother confirms that the organ doesn't carry an infectious disease.

The law is a first in the United States.

There are currently no state laws addressing the cultural need to take placentas from hospitals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


On the Web:

Hawaii Legislature, HB2057, Act 12: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/