So the state does own you. The only way around that is for the state to relinquish its ownership.
That is a troublesome conclusion. But it is the logical one from the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling Thursday that family members have no protected property rights to a relative's internal organs removed by a coroner for forensic testing. If the government wants to withhold part of you from what your family deems a proper burial, that's the state's right, six justices on the court believe.
Moreover, while Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton wrote that the court is mindful of a family's right to prepare a relative for proper cremation or burial, state law doesn't require coroners to inform families of exactly what has been removed from a body or guaranteeing autopsy specimens be returned. She did urge state lawmakers to address the issue if they are concerned by the ruling. Got that? You belong to the state unless state lawmakers say otherwise.
Call us paranoid, but the ruling is a disturbing leap toward government as master - we subjects here for its disposal, unless it grants us certain rights.
The case comes from Hamilton County, where the parents of Christopher Albrecht, 30, sued after learning in the autopsy report that their son's brain was removed. They argued it should have been returned to them for burial, The Associated Press reported. Albrecht's vehicle went into a pond in 2001, drowning him after he suffered the epileptic seizure that led to his accident.
The court doesn't think so. Lundberg Stratton - writing for a majority that included Lima's Robert R. Cupp - said there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, state law or common law that says families must be notified or provided with removed organs in such cases. It's unclear why the justices think a constitution - a document that defines the structure of government - should address burial procedures, but a little more research was in order if Lundberg Stratton believes common law doesn't address a family burying a member per its religious beliefs.
Several medical groups backed the coroners. They believe establishing property rights for families to organs, tissue, blood and other fluids extracted during an autopsy could jeopardize timely autopsies and impede the gathering of evidence in criminal cases, AP reported. We wouldn't want anything as pesky as next of kin or religious beliefs getting in the way of state business.
Provisions for criminal investigations and the such need to exist, but those shouldn't exclude families from knowing what's become of their loved ones and, except in extreme cases, getting all of them back.
It is unfortunate the Ohio Supreme Court believes the state has a greater right to your body parts than does your family. It is also unfortunate the justices have legitimized the false belief that rights don't exist until a legislature grants them. However, that is where Ohio finds itself, so the General Assembly should fix the court's mistake.