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Why Are Autopsies Forbidden?

Jewish law forbids mutilating the body; hence, autopsies may be performed only when absolutely essential.  In cases where a death is the result of a homicide, or where there is suspicion of homicide, most religious authorities allow an autopsy to be performed. 

Autopsy is also sometimes permitted when it is thought that as a result of the procedure man's scientific knowledge might be enhanced and lifesaving discoveries eventually might be made. 

In Israel, autopsy has been the subject of much controversy.  The current law limits the freedom of doctors to perform autopsies and organ transplants by requiring them to respect the wishes of relatives of the deceased when they oppose operations on the cadaver.

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