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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

SF 1694

3rd Engrossment - 89th Legislature (2015 - 2016) Posted on 05/26/2015 09:54am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Bill Text Versions

Engrossments
Introduction Posted on 03/11/2015
1st Engrossment Posted on 03/18/2015
2nd Engrossment Posted on 03/25/2015
3rd Engrossment Posted on 05/06/2015

Current Version - 3rd Engrossment

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A bill for an act
relating to public safety; providing for religious objections to autopsies in
certain cases; amending Minnesota Statutes 2014, sections 390.005, by adding
a subdivision; 390.11, subdivisions 1, 2, by adding a subdivision; 390.32,
subdivisions 2, 3.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 390.005, is amended by adding a
subdivision to read:


new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Communicating with family during a death investigation. new text end

new text begin Every
coroner or medical examiner in office on or after July 1, 2015, shall maintain and make
publicly available, a statement of policy or principles to be used for communicating with
families during a death investigation.
new text end

Sec. 2.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 390.11, subdivision 1, is amended to read:


Subdivision 1.

Reports of death.

All sudden or unexpected deaths and all deaths
that may be due entirely or in part to any factor other than natural disease processes
must be promptly reported to the coroner or medical examiner for evaluation. Sufficient
information must be provided to the coroner or medical examiner. Reportable deaths
include, but are not limited to:

(1) unnatural deaths, including violent deaths arising from homicide, suicide, or
accident;

(2) deaths due to a fire or associated with burns or chemical, electrical, or radiation
injury;

(3) unexplained or unexpected perinatal and postpartum maternal deaths;

(4) deaths under suspicious, unusual, or unexpected circumstances;

(5) deaths of persons whose bodies are to be cremated or otherwise disposed of so
that the bodies will later be unavailable for examination;

(6) deaths of inmates of public institutions and persons in custody of law
enforcement officers who have not been hospitalized primarily for organic disease;

(7) deaths that occur during, in association with, or as the result of diagnostic,
therapeutic, or anesthetic procedures;

(8) deaths due to culpable neglect;

(9) stillbirths of 20 weeks or longer gestation unattended by a physician;

(10) sudden deaths of persons not affected by recognizable disease;

(11) unexpected deaths of persons notwithstanding a history of underlying disease;

(12) deaths in which a fracture of a major bone such as a femur, humerus, or tibia
has occurred within the past six months;

(13) deaths unattended by a physician occurring outside of a licensed health care
facility or licensed residential hospice program;

(14) deaths of persons not seen by their physician within 120 days of demise;

(15) deaths of persons occurring in an emergency department;

(16) stillbirths or deaths of newborn infants in which there has been maternal use of
or exposure to unprescribed controlled substances including street drugs or in which there
is history or evidence of maternal trauma;

(17) unexpected deaths of children;

(18) solid organ donors;

(19) unidentified bodies;

(20) skeletonized remains;

(21) deaths occurring within 24 hours of arrival at a health care facility if death
is unexpected;

(22) deaths associated with the decedent's employment;

(23) deaths of nonregistered hospice patients or patients in nonlicensed hospice
programs; and

(24) deaths attributable to acts of terrorism.

The coroner or medical examiner shall determine the extent of the coroner's or medical
examiner's investigation, including whether additional investigation is needed by the
coroner or medical examiner, jurisdiction is assumed, or an autopsy will be performed,
deleted text beginnotwithstanding any other statutedeleted text endnew text begin subject to subdivision 2bnew text end.

Sec. 3.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 390.11, subdivision 2, is amended to read:


Subd. 2.

Autopsies.

new text beginSubject to subdivision 2b, new text endthe coroner or medical examiner
may order an autopsy, at the coroner or medical examiner's sole discretion, in the case of
any human death referred to in subdivision 1, when, in the judgment of the coroner or
medical examiner the public interest would be served by an autopsy. The autopsy shall
be performed without unnecessary delay. A report of the facts developed by the autopsy
and findings of the person performing the autopsy shall be made promptly and filed in
the office of the coroner or medical examiner. When further investigation is deemed
advisable, a copy of the report shall be delivered to the county attorney. Every autopsy
performed pursuant to this subdivision shall, whenever practical, be performed in the
county morgue. Nothing herein shall require the coroner or medical examiner to order an
autopsy upon the body of a deceased person if the person died of known or ascertainable
causes or had been under the care of a licensed physician immediately prior to death or if
the coroner or medical examiner determines the autopsy to be unnecessary.

Autopsies performed pursuant to this subdivision may include the removal,
retention, testing, or use of organs, parts of organs, fluids or tissues, at the discretion of
the coroner or medical examiner, when removal, retention, testing, or use may be useful
in determining or confirming the cause of death, mechanism of death, manner of death,
identification of the deceased, presence of disease or injury, or preservation of evidence.
Such tissue retained by the coroner or medical examiner pursuant to this subdivision shall
be disposed of in accordance with standard biohazardous hospital or surgical material and
does not require specific consent or notification of the legal next of kin. When removal,
retention, testing, and use of organs, parts of organs, fluids, or tissues is deemed beneficial,
and is done only for research or the advancement of medical knowledge and progress,
written consent or documented oral consent shall be obtained from the legal next of kin, if
any, of the deceased person prior to the removal, retention, testing, or use.

Sec. 4.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 390.11, is amended by adding a subdivision to
read:


new text begin Subd. 2b. new text end

new text begin Religious objections to autopsy. new text end

new text begin (a) For purposes of this subdivision:
new text end

new text begin (1) "compelling state interest" means that:
new text end

new text begin (i) the autopsy is necessary to investigation of a suspicious death or suspected crime;
new text end

new text begin (ii) the autopsy is necessary to prevent a potential public health threat and essential
to ascertain the cause or manner of death;
new text end

new text begin (iii) the autopsy is necessary to ascertain the cause or manner of death following
an unexpected death, regardless of the decedent's underlying disease, in order to protect
the public's health;
new text end

new text begin (iv) the autopsy is necessary to obtain proper toxicologic or other specimens that
may represent evidence of a crime and may deteriorate over time;
new text end

new text begin (v) the death is an unexpected and unexplained death of a child;
new text end

new text begin (vi) the death is associated with police action;
new text end

new text begin (vii) the death is unnatural, unattended, or unexpected and occurred within a facility
licensed by the Department of Corrections, a secure treatment facility, as defined in section
246.71, subdivision 5, or within a facility as defined in section 626.5572, subdivision 6, but
excluding deaths that occurred in the home of the decedent or a caregiver of the decedent;
new text end

new text begin (viii) the death is due to acute workplace injury;
new text end

new text begin (ix) the death is caused by apparent electrocution;
new text end

new text begin (x) the death is caused by unwitnessed or suspected drowning;
new text end

new text begin (xi) the body is unidentified and the autopsy may aid in identification;
new text end

new text begin (xii) the body is skeletonized but not subject to the provisions of section 307.08;
new text end

new text begin (xiii) the death appears to be caused by fire or explosion; or
new text end

new text begin (xiv) the need for an autopsy is otherwise established under paragraph (g);
new text end

new text begin (2) "religious beliefs" means the recognized tenets, understandings, customs, or
rites of any culture or recognized religion as they apply to activities described in section
149A.01, subdivision 3, paragraph (b);
new text end

new text begin (3) "religious grounds" means that performance of an autopsy is contrary to the
religious beliefs of the decedent or the decedent included a religious objection to an
autopsy in the decedent's health care directive; and
new text end

new text begin (4) "representative of the decedent" or "representative" means the person or persons
with the right to control and duty of disposition of the body of the decedent under section
149A.80, subdivision 2.
new text end

new text begin (b) The coroner or medical examiner shall, as soon as possible, but no more than
24 hours after the discovery of the decedent's body, exercise good faith efforts to give
verbal or written notice to the representative of the decedent of the intended autopsy.
This verbal or written notice must include providing written materials explaining the
death investigation process or providing the representative the office's Web site address
where this information is located. These written materials and Web site must include
information regarding Minnesota's law concerning religious objections to autopsies. A
record summarizing verbal communication with a representative must be maintained
indefinitely in the coroner or medical examiner's records. If, despite a good faith effort, a
representative of the decedent cannot be found within 24 hours of the discovery of the
decedent's body, the autopsy may proceed without further delay.
new text end

new text begin (c) If the representative of the decedent does not object to the autopsy on religious
grounds, the autopsy may be performed without delay.
new text end

new text begin (d) If the representative of the decedent objects to the autopsy on religious grounds,
an autopsy must not be performed unless the coroner or medical examiner determines
that there is a compelling state interest to perform the autopsy. The coroner or medical
examiner may require a representative of the decedent or a person representing a class
of representatives to present an affidavit stating the person's relationship to the decedent,
any religious affiliation of the decedent, that the decedent had a religious objection to an
autopsy and the basis for that belief, and that the person will assume responsibility for the
lawful disposition of the body of the deceased.
new text end

new text begin (e) If the coroner or medical examiner determines that a compelling state interest to
perform an autopsy exists under paragraph (a), clause (1), items (i) to (xiii), the autopsy
may proceed without further delay.
new text end

new text begin (f) The district court may waive the waiting period under paragraph (b) upon ex
parte motion if it determines that the delay may prejudice the accuracy of the autopsy
or threaten public health.
new text end

new text begin (g) If the coroner or medical examiner determines that there is a compelling state
interest to perform an autopsy under circumstances not described in paragraph (a), clause
(1), items (i) to (xiii), and the representative of the decedent objects based on religious
grounds and submits written information to the coroner or medical examiner showing
reason to believe that the autopsy is contrary to the religious beliefs of the decedent, the
coroner or medical examiner may bring an action in district court for an order authorizing
the autopsy. The action must be brought by notice of an order to show cause served on the
representative of the decedent or, if the representative is not available, on another party if
directed by the court. The proceeding must be determined summarily upon the petition
and the oral or written evidence offered by the parties. The court shall grant the relief
sought in the petition if it finds that the petitioner demonstrates by a preponderance of
the evidence that the autopsy is necessary and that need outweighs the state's interest in
observing the decedent's religious beliefs. If the petition is denied and no stay is granted
by the court, the body must immediately be released in accordance with chapter 149A.
new text end

new text begin (h) Autopsies performed after a religious objection under this subdivision must be
the least intrusive procedure consistent with the state's compelling interest in performing
the autopsy. This subdivision does not prohibit a coroner or medical examiner from
obtaining voluntary permission from a representative of the decedent to conduct an
examination and inquiry involving less intrusive means than an autopsy.
new text end

new text begin (i) A coroner or medical examiner is not liable for the failure to perform an autopsy
if an objection to the autopsy on religious grounds has been made under this subdivision.
new text end

new text begin (j) In a court proceeding related to this subdivision, the petitioner may file data that
are investigative data under section 13.83, subdivision 4, under seal with the court. The
data must be examined by the court in camera. The investigative data filed with the court
remain confidential consistent with the provisions of section 13.83, subdivision 4, except
where disclosure is ordered as provided by section 13.83, subdivision 7.
new text end

new text begin (k) Actions or determinations by the coroner or medical examiner under this
subdivision are exempt from chapter 14.
new text end

Sec. 5.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 390.32, subdivision 2, is amended to read:


Subd. 2.

deleted text beginViolent or mysterious deaths;deleted text end Autopsies.

new text beginSubject to section 390.11,
subdivision 2b,
new text endthe medical examiner may conduct an autopsy in the case of any human
death of any type referred to in subdivision 1, clause (1) or (2), deleted text beginwhen in the judgment of the
medical examiner the public interest requires an autopsy
deleted text endnew text begin or in section 390.11, subdivision 1new text end.

Sec. 6.

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 390.32, subdivision 3, is amended to read:


Subd. 3.

Other deaths; autopsies; exhumation consent.

new text beginSubject to section 390.11,
subdivision 2b,
new text endthe medical examiner may conduct an autopsy in the case of any human
death of any type referred to in subdivision 1, clause (3) or (4), or may exhume any human
body and perform an autopsy in the case of any human death of any type referred to in
subdivision 1 when in the judgment of the medical examiner the public interest requires an
autopsy. No such autopsy new text beginon an exhumed body new text endshall be conducted unless the surviving
spouse, or next of kin if there is no surviving spouse, consents, or unless the district court
of the county where the body is located or buried, upon notice as the court directs, enters
its order authorizing an autopsy or an exhumation and autopsy. Application for an order
may be made by the medical examiner or the county attorney of the county where the body
is located or buried, upon a showing that the court deems appropriate.