She is not an elected official. She is not a paid lobbyist. She isn’t employed or affiliated with a large organization. She has been called a hero; a mental health warrior. She doesn’t have an organization or wealthy individual funding her efforts. She was instrumental in the passage of a bill requiring criminal background checks for mental health professionals in the state of Maryland in 2013. She has brought awareness to the reality of professional predators within the mental health industry, the state-hopping of these individuals and the professional boards allowing them to surrender their licenses to avoid prosecution.
She has pushed for placing the disciplinary records of health professionals on a user-friendly, searchable database; believing the public has the right to know the disciplinary history of their providers. She has pushed to fix a loop hole in Maryland law that allows the state’s anatomy board to take possession of a deceased person’s body within hours of their death and to sell off their body parts for profit without the permission of the deceased or their loved ones. She pushed for eliminating the fee for birth certificates for homeless individuals and the bill passed in Maryland in 2016.
Her efforts were not limited to her home state, either. She pushed her namesake legislation (Lynette’s Law) in West Virginia and successfully passed two bills in 2016. The state of West Virginia now requires criminal background checks for all health care providers as well as requires their disciplinary records to be put on a public database. Sexually exploiting mental health patients by their mental health provider is also now a felony crime in that state.
She has been interviewed by various news media outlets in print, online, and on television. Her writing has been published by XO Jane and the Huffington Post. She has built a loyal following through her strategic use of social media and is changing the landscape of citizen activism.
Her name, Heather Lynette Sinclair. Her mission, catching professional predators. Her goal, giving power back to the people.
Sinclair recently drafted a petition urging Governor Larry Hogan to sign an executive order prohibiting the Maryland Anatomy Board from dumping the ashes of “unclaimed” and “unindentfied” persons.
The petition reads:
“On June 20th, at 1:30 pm at the Springfield Hospital Center grounds in Sykesville, Maryland, the board will dump the ashes of those who donated their bodies to science by choice, but it will also dump the ashes of unidentified and unclaimed.
Governor, the Maryland Anatomy Board does not: 1) contact next of kin 2) search missing persons registries 3) search for a will 4) work with police. Within 72 hours after death, the Anatomy Board assumes control over all bodies. The bodies are then sold to medical science programs for profit as cadavers. HB1152 ” Nancy’s law” would have fixed the issues in the law dealing with unclaimed bodies, but it never came for a vote. The bill would extend the time period to claim a body from 72 hours to 14 days before the body becomes property of the state. The bill also allows families and friends- those with right of priority in order to be granted authorizing agent once they claim the body at the board and pay the storage fees. Currently, families aren’t given enough time to find and claim their relatives. People are always assumed missing not dead.
Therefore, we are asking you to issue an Executive Order to prevent the Maryland Anatomy Board from dumping the ashes of unidentified and unclaimed bodies in the community plot until we can run their information through missing persons registries. Body donation should always be a choice. In Maryland, it’s a default with the law allowing the state to assume control over the body within 72 hours, and profit from selling the bodies for parts. This is an injustice of the rights’ of the living; the rights’ of spouses, and families. Every one deserves the right to a dignified burial.”
Sinclair plans to protest the dumping of the ashes and has utilized her social media presence to spread the word and more importantly awareness of the issue. Social media has been a critical aspect of Sinclair’s strategy to spread public awareness and to build support for her efforts. She continues to utilize social media platforms to help level the playing field against well-funded lobbyists who seek to kill her bills.
She is called a hero, but in her words “I’m not a hero. I just give a damn.” Through her efforts, awareness has increased regarding the homeless; the lack of transparency and accountability in the mental health industry; how the state is profiting from the actions of mental health predators; how the state is using bodies for profit and science without explicit permission; but the key takeaway from the efforts of Sinclair is that one person can make a difference in the world. She is changing the lobbying game and providing evidence that individuals can impact our state legislature and pass legislation that protects the rights of people.
To learn more about these issues, how you can help make a positive impact and to keep up with Sinclair’s activities, click on the following links: