In California, in order to execute a certificate of religious belief, a person must be 18 years of age or older and must state in clear and unambiguous language that any postmortem anatomical dissection or that specified procedures would violate the religious convictions of the person. The certificate must be signed and dated by the person in the presence of at least two witnesses. Each witness must also sign the certificate and must print on the certificate his or her name and residence address.
California law allows the state to trump even this religious objection if the coroner "has a reasonable suspicion that the death was caused by the criminal act of another or by a contagious disease constituting a public health hazard."
Informing the Coroner
Pursuant to Government Code A?27491.43, if before beginning the autopsy, the Coroner is informed by a relative or friend of the decedent that the decedent had executed a certificate of religious belief, the Coroner shall not perform the procedure for 48 hours. If the certificate is produced, the case shall be governed by this Government Code.
Sample Certificate of Religious Belief - Instructions
Below is a sample certificate of religious belief form. Sign, date, and print your name on each of two originals. Have both originals witnessed on the same date by two people who are neither relatives nor health care providers of any kind. Keep one original for your personal files, and provide the other to your next of kin.
Sample Certificate of Religious Belief - Form
CALIFORNIA CERTIFICATE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF
Pursuant to A?27491.43 of the Government Code of the State of California, I hereby execute this Certificate of Religious Belief:
Any autopsy of my body is a violation of my religious beliefs. Any procedure which allows the post-mortem deterioration of my body is a violation of my religious beliefs.
THESE MATERIALS HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY OMER RANGOONWALA, ESQ. ([email protected]) FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY WITH NO WARRANTY AS TO ACCURACY OR APPLICABILITY TO A PARTICULAR SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES. THE MATERIALS ARE NOT INTENDED AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE.
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