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Can you sell your tattoo or gold teeth?

Can you sell your tattoo or gold teeth?

Two cases involving the commodification of the human body deserved our attention.

The case of skinning human skin

Tim Steiner got a tattoo from a Belgian artist. So far so good ! Except that… The tattooed one, committed by contract, to be cut up of his tattooed skin (after his death) to return the tattoo to the German collector Rik Reinking who (would have?) Paid this work 130 euros.

The case of the golden teeth

An elected member of the National Front, proposed during a Municipal Council of Fontaine (Isère) to pay the dentist to the Roma to "recover their golden teeth ... and finance their housing".

Between the trade in human skin and the recovery of gold teeth, which, let us remember, was the Nazis' favorite sport, guess which of these two practices is legal?

The principle of the unavailability of the human body

Article 16-1 and following of the Civil Code as well as the bioethics laws of 1994, impose respect and inviolability of the human body. It is the principle of the unavailability of the human body.

The human body, and all the elements that compose it, cannot be the subject of a commercial act, nor of agreements free of charge or against payment (Article 16-5 of the Civil Code). And this protection does not end with death (article 16-1-1 of the civil code).

However, the law provides for two very distinct exceptions.

The exceptions to the unavailability of the human body

The legislator makes a very clear distinction between the elements of the human body which can be donated and the products of the human body which can be transferred or sold.

The Elements of the Human Body: The Right to Donate

Articles L.1211-2 and L.1211-8 of the Public Health Code provide that the principles governing the unavailability of the human body are not subject to the elements of the human body collected and used for therapeutic purposes.

To put it simply, the elements of the human body are rare or unique elements (a liver, two lungs, a heart…). They can be donated in strict compliance with the conditions set by law (consent, free, the purpose of the donation, etc.). These provisions concern organs, tissues, cells, gametes, blood, bone marrow, etc.

Note: Organ donations are made during the person's lifetime (article L.1231-1 of the public health code).

Samples are taken from the body of a deceased person for therapeutic or scientific purposes (article L.1232-1 of the public health code).

Products of the human body: the right to transfer or sell them

Article R.1211-49 of the Public Health Code specifies that are not subject to the principle of the unavailability of the human body human body products designated below:

  • The hair.
  • Nails.
  • Hairs.
  • The teeth.

And since 2002, human milk (breast milk).

The products of the human body being elements which are renewed spontaneously and periodically (even in a limited way like the teeth), they could be the object of trade.

Namely: let us specify that legally, once separated from the person, the body (organ, product, tissue or corpse) becomes furniture by nature.

Therefore, a frozen embryo, a severed hand… legally becomes movable property! But not just any furniture since even separated from the body, they are insusceptible of appropriation (article 16-5 of the civil code prohibits any contract for value or free).

Conversely, once integrated into the body, an object such as an implant will be assimilated to an element of the human body.


Taking a tattoo from the skin after death: illegal

The contract providing for the cutting up of tattooed skin will be absolutely void! And this, regardless of the country where the death will occur (since the law of the country is applied or a person dies). Indeed, the trade in human skin is prohibited in (almost?) All states of the world.

Even after consenting, a person cannot give up his body, or part of his body (including the epidermis), even after his death, for money or free of charge.

In our business, signing such a contract, pocketing the money and getting publicity in the process, does not commit to anything. But the collector will not be able to recover the tattoo: Any contract relating to the illegal human body.

If the collector wants to ignore it, he incurs 5 years imprisonment and a 75.000 euros fine.

Sell ​​your gold teeth while alive: Legal

It is legal to sell your gold teeth to pay off your debts! It is unhealthy and immoral, but legal! Corn, on condition of obtaining the consent of the roma, otherwise it is an act of torture and barbarism.

For the record, a person put a tooth (not gold!) on sale on the Le Bon Coin site for 2 euros!

But this kind of proposal shivers down your spine, since it takes us back 200 years on the scale of civilization.

In "Les miserables" by Victor Hugo, Fantine was already selling her hair and teeth to feed her daughter, Cosette!

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