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Israel’s Religious Party Revives Autopsy Issue; Insists on Agreement from Family

The National Religious Party abruptly revived the controversy over autopsies in Israel today with a declaration asking that all such autopsies be halted immediately except where prior agreement was received from the family of the deceased person. The NRP also announced it planned to hold “far-reaching” consultations on the issue with its Parliamentary faction and with other Orthodox leaders. It was believed that the declaration was a response to an open letter published last night by Israeli hospitals stressing the need for autopsies for scientific advancement.

A conflict in Premier Levi Eshkol’s coalition Government on the issue apparently had been eased last week by a promise from the Premier that his Government would submit, within a month, proposals to Parliament to meet Orthodox objections. The Premier, in making the pledge on May 4, said the proposals would be in the form of amendments to Israel’s Anatomy and Pathology Law which would combine “maximum consideration for the sensibilities of Orthodox families and the need for scientific progress.”