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August 19, 1983 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-08-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

7 !

:

V .4'. I,

THE DETROITIMS11 NEWS

!4,

NY Autopsy Law Co nsiders Views of Religious Groups

ALBANY, N.Y. (JTA) —
An unprecedented measure,
which will substantially
limit the power of medical
examiners throughout New
York state to perform au-
topsies over religious objec-
tions, an issue of vital con=
cern to observant Jews, was

signed into law, by Gov.
Mario Cuomo.
The measure's principal
sponsor, Assemblyman
Sheldon Silver, (D-Man.)
said, when the bill was
adopted earlier this year by
the legislature, that it is the
first and only law of its kind

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in the United States.
The new law provides
that, if there is conscien-
tious objection by next of
kin or "friend" of the dece-
dent, the medical examiner
may not perform an autopsy
unless there is "a compel-
ling public necessity," de-
fined as a situation in which
an autopsy is "essential to
the conduct of a criminal in-
vestigation of a homocide"
of which the dead person
may be a victim; or that
"discovery of the cause of
"' death is necessary to meet
an immediate and substan-
tial threat to the public
health; and that a dissection
or autopsy is essential to as-
certain the cause of death."

Silver said the new law
also provided that even a
permissable autopsy
cannot be performed
without notice to permit
"an objecting party to
Challenge the proprierty
of the particular dissec-
tion."

Silver said the law re-
quires that if a medical
examiner contends an au-
topsy is warranted by a
"compelling public neces-
sity" other than investiga-
tion of a possible homicide
or prevention of disease, a
court order must be ob-
tained "on notice of next of
kin or friend, or if none is
known to them, to such
party as the court may di-
rect."

Silver said this reverses
the prior process of those
opposing an autopsy having
to go to court to halt "clearly
objectionable autopsies" but
the new law also provides "
a mechanism for a court to
rule on extraordinary situa-
tions."
Asserting that "many
needless autopsies" are
done in New York state,
Silver said the new law,
while recognizing certain
necessities for valid post
mortems, "more ration-
ally defines those areas in
which a medical exam-
iner is entitled" to per-
form an autopsy.
Jewish religious law sets
severe limits for permitting
dissection of a body. Impro-
per dissection 'is considered
a defilement of the body and
a desecration of the good
name of the dead person.

Friday., Au gist-19, 1983 41

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