A bill that will set out the procedure for families of the deceased to object to autopsies based on religious grounds received bi-partisan support in the senate Thursday evening, 46-2.
Senate Bill 6068, sponsored by Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, will allow families or close friends of the deceased to request that a court determine if an autopsy is necessary if there is a religious objection to the procedure, and if an agreement on the procedure cannot be reached with the coroner or medical examiner.
“What I love about our country is our ability to balance religious tolerance with public health and safety,” Kline said. “This bill was written with people of many backgrounds in mind – Jews, Muslims, Native Americans – and the respect we give to the tenets of their beliefs.”
The bill still allows for a coroner or medical examiner to retain the legal authority to order an autopsy without consent if a death is believed to be the result of a homicide or a threat to public health. There are also no provisions in the bill which prevent a visual examination, collecting samples for toxicology or obtaining potentially time-sensitive evidence.
The bill stems from the case of Brian Grobois, a 54-year-old Jewish man who died while snowshoeing on Mt. Rainier in December.