Law allows placentas to be given to mothers
The organ is used in some traditional Hawaiian rituals
Gov. Linda Lingle signed a bill yesterday 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 to perform a 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 does not carry an infectious disease.
There are no other state laws addressing the cultural need to take placentas from hospitals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.