Bill: Allow Families to Care For Their Own Dead?

March 11, 2010
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imageMinnesota – Legislation permits family members to care for their loved ones’ bodies.

Death, state Rep. Carolyn Laine, said Tuesday is frightening.

“We are always afraid of the unknown,” she told fellow lawmakers. But the fear — and the law — should not prevent families from “reclaiming” the care of their dead loved ones, she said.

Laine, DFL-Columbia Heights, is sponsoring a bill that would allow families to wash, dress and transport their dead, keep them on dry ice for several days and to host larger viewings than permitted by current law.

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The measure, which has a bipartisan group of 22 co-sponsors, passed the House Health Care and Human Services Policy Tuesday on a voice vote. It next moves on to the full House.

The law now requires bodies to be quickly embalmed or cremated after death and limits who can view unembalmed bodies.

Recently widowed Heather Halen, of Minneapolis, said her ability to wash and dress her husband continued the intimacy they’d shared during his life. She kept his body at home and invited family members to visit.

“There was absolutely nothing eerie or weird about this,” she said. She said had done her research before her husband’s death and was within the current law, she said.

Michael Osterholm, a prominent Minnesota public health doctor, said there is no medical reason to quickly embalm dead bodies.

“There really is no discernible risk,” he said.

Source: Star Tribune

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