Md. adds Jewish-sensitive rules for autopsies

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Maryland’s chief medical examiner’s office added procedures to its training manual that are sensitive to Jewish concerns about autopsies.

Agudath Israel of Maryland suggested the 11 procedures, which were added in January, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported. They include allowing a member of the Jewish community to be in the presence of the deceased until the body’s release, keeping incisions minimal and suturing all incisions. In general, Jewish law forbids autopsies, except in such cases as suspected foul play.

Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, director of Agudath Israel of Maryland, said the suggestions were made to the chief medical examiner’s office after the suicide last December of a Ner Israel Rabbinical College student. In such a situation, state law requires that the medical examiner’s office conduct an examination, although that does not automatically mean an autopsy.

“To sign a death certificate, they have to understand what happened,” Sadwin said.

The new procedures also would apply to the sensitivities of other groups, including Muslims and Native Americans.

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