Religious Exemption for Autopsies

Two high profile cases in Northern Minnesota have forced the Legislature to look at religious exemptions in regards to autopsies. In both cases, the county medical examiner wanted to perform autopsies on members of American Indian tribes. This goes against their religious beliefs; after protests, the bodies were released to the families with no autopsy performed. Minnesota lacks a religious exemption, and Senate File 1694 creates one. The bill would allow family members to block an autopsy on religious grounds, unless there is a compelling state interest to perform one. Compelling state interests may include; homicide investigations, public health concerns, and toxicology reports or other evidence of a crime. The bill passed out of the Health, Human Services and Housing Committee, and is now in the Judiciary Committee. (S.F. 1694)

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