Ensuring Culturally Respectful Services after Death
Citizen Action opportunities
State level Activity:
Many faiths have religious objections to autopsy, including many Native Americans and people of Orthodox Jewish, Muslim, Christian Scientist or other faiths. Current MN state law regarding autopsies, unlike several other states, does not recognize a religious right to object to autopsy. A bill is being drafted to create a process whereby a person’s religious views regarding autopsy must be respected unless there exists a compelling governmental interest to conduct an autopsy, as is the case with a suspected criminal investigation or public health concern. Absent a compelling governmental interest, a Medical Examiner’s desire to satisfy his/her curiosity will no longer trump religious objections when cause of death is otherwise obvious.
Contact your state representatives sharing your value in having state law reflect a culturally inclusive approach to autopsies and ask that they support such measures through co-sponsorship and voting when they are before their chamber.
When the Bill is drafted and before committees, and eventually the House and Senate, again contact your representatives urging their support.
District Finder: use this link to find out who your representatives are: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/
Representative Mary Murphy, 3B
651-296-2676 or 800-890-5428
| District 7
Representative Jennifer Schultz
|Senator Thomas M. Bakk
651 296 8881
|Representative Erik Simonson
651-296-4246 or 800-704-4945
|Governor Mark DaytonTelephone: 651-201-3400
Toll Free: 800-657-3717
Minnesota Relay: 800-627-3529
|Senator Roger J. Reinert
St. Louis County Activity:
The current St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s (ME) contract does not contain language directing that religious beliefs be taken into consideration when determining if an autopsy is to be conducted. In fact the ME contract financially incentivizes ordering and conducting autopsies, even if there is no legal or health safety concerns. This contract is pending and there is an opportunity to determine the scope, language and duration of that contract.
Contact the County Administrator, County Attorney, and your Commissioner urging them to support the adoption of a contract that does the following:
- Provides an alternative to the current ME and his staff, for those who in light of recent events would find having this individual determine the necessity of autopsy and oversee the conducting of an autopsy on their loved ones to be unacceptable.
- Ensures that the contract for any ME services contains language that such services must align with inclusive practices as relates to honoring religious traditions and beliefs as much as legal and health safety needs allow.
Further, ask the County Administration and Board to ensure the ongoing availability of Medical Examiner services that align with the Community’s value of respect, diversity, professionalism and fiscal responsibility.
Use this link to identify your St. Louis County commissioner: http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/
Commissioner Frank Jewell
Commissioner Pete Stauber (Board Chair)
Mark S. Rubin