LANSING — State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn) has introduced House Bill 6275, which would amend the County Medical Examiners Act to establish a process and standards for virtual autopsies. A virtual autopsy is a less intrusive autopsy procedure, and is defined as the use of computerized tomography, MRIs, x-rays, surface scanning, or similar examination modalities.
“It’s always difficult for a family to bury their relative, but it’s even harder when the autopsy was overly invasive, or even non-essential,” said Hammoud. “This bill limits the unnecessary occurrence of autopsies that are in conflict with religious beliefs, and sets a clear process that would respect the wishes of families, while also respecting the need for a full autopsy, under certain circumstances.”
HB 6275 would clarify that, upon request, a virtual autopsy would be performed unless there is compelling public interest to perform an autopsy over the religious objection of the deceased individual’s family. A full autopsy could still be performed if a medical examiner determines there is a public necessity in the case of criminal investigations or to determine the cause of death to protect public health. Additionally, a specific time frame would be set for an action filed with the court by the medical examiner for an autopsy.
Numerous religions have aversions to overly invasive autopsies, including, but not limited to, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Jehovah’s Witness, and many sects of Christianity.
“Respect for cultural and religious traditions is an essential part of American culture,” Hammoud said. “This legislation will provide families the opportunity to get closure following the death of a loved one without sacrificing their beliefs.”