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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.

Citizen action:

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:

District 3

Representative Mary Murphy, 3B

651-296-2676 or 800-890-5428

District 7

Representative Jennifer Schultz
District: 07A


Senator Thomas M. Bakk
District 03
Majority Leader

651 296 8881
(Use Mail form from his page)

Representative Erik Simonson
District: 07B

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

District 07
(651) 296-4188


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.

Citizen action:

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:

1st District
Commissioner Frank Jewell
(218) 726-2450
5th District
Commissioner Pete Stauber (Board Chair)
(218) 726-2450

2nd District
Commissioner Patrick Boyle
(218) 726-2359


7th District
Commissioner Steve Raukar
(218) 262-0201


3rd District
Commissioner Chris Dahlberg
(218) 726-2562


County Attorney

Mark S. Rubin



4th District
Commissioner Tom Rukavina
(218) 365-8200


County Administrator

Kevin gray