Haredim Steal Baby’s Body From Morgue To Prevent DNA Testing That Would Implicate Parents In Baby’s Death

Ha’aretz reports haredim rioted outside the Ashdod cemetery and stole the body of a baby girl from the cemetery’s tahara room to prevent DNA testing that would most likely implicate the baby’s parents in the baby’s death. DNA testing on a corpse is generally held to be permissible according to Jewish law. The baby’s parents brought the baby to a medical clinic seeking treatment for an infectious disease. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, but the parents apparently opted for homopathic treatment instead. The baby died as a direct result of the infection.

And haredi rabbis? Silent, as usual.

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24 Comments

Filed under Crime, Haredim, Israel

24 responses to “Haredim Steal Baby’s Body From Morgue To Prevent DNA Testing That Would Implicate Parents In Baby’s Death

  1. Paul Freedman

    I don’t see how DNA testing would say anything about whether a child did or did not receive antibiotics or whether parental neglect contributed to its death and the article does NOT say this. FYI DNA does not alter when we eat or take medicine. The article says the doctor’s originally wanted to perform an autopsy–this might give some clue as to cause of death. DNA testing could tell you something about genetic predisposition to disease but preventing DNA tests on the poor corpse does not throw away a “clue” as to the parent’s guilt and in the USA I don’t know that the law forces parents to take doctor’s advice to use medicine.

  2. sarah

    I think Paul is correct. I also think that the parents suspected an autopsy was going to be done. Even though they were assured otherwise, who can you trust anymore, esp. in Israel.

    However, on the subject of homeopaths…. I know of an ultra orthdox family who refused to give their very very sick child INSULIN and almost killed him, and the parents were about to be sent to jail for their ridiculous notion that a psychic orthodx Jewish healer could heal their son by remote.

  3. C-Girl

    Paul, this makes perfect sense. The coroner would have wanted to do a spinal tap to test for the bacterial menangitis. A process called PCR, commonly used in forensic investigations, looks for distinct nucleic acid sequences in clinical samples and can rapidly and effectively determine the presence of bacteria in the spinal fluid.

  4. Anonymous

    oops- fingers are refusing to cooperate… a spinal tap would test for bacterial meningitis.

    The missing pieces of the puzzle are: when was the baby diagnosed & for what? Did the doctors suspect meningitis? Why wasn’t the baby hospitalized?

    As an aside, these haredi arson-in-the-streets protests seem a little routine by now. Is this a halacha that I’m not familiar with?

  5. Ma Rabbi

    The article does NOT say anything about implicating the parents in the babys death.

  6. Anonymous

    The test was ordered by the court, probably indicating that they are in the process of constructing a case for negligence or some similar charge.

  7. Haredirioter

    The only problem we have with the testing is that they want to do it at abu kabir. We are ready to allow testing in a different location. But your blatant hatred for all things haredi would allow a child to be cut open and desecrated all in the name of “science”.

  8. Paul Freedman

    C-Girl: could be–but usually when we say DNA tests we don’t mean specific nucleic acid sequences of foreign bacterial traces but actual (human) DNA of host or attacker; and usually a very small sample is required, no?–a spinal tap on a corpse is closer to a pathological examination

  9. The Post, Ha’aretz and Ynet are all reporting a spinal tap.

  10. Paul Freedman

    I see that too–follows C-Girl and case for negligence but then someting more than “DNA test” per se (they are not determining the DNA of the infant or an attacker)–this is post-mortem examination of a body to determine cause of death: not cutting but arguably an autopsy [?]

  11. C-Girl

    Paul,
    Exactly. The test is minimally invasive- just involves drawing out a small amount of fluid, leaving the body fully intact otherwise. If my guess is correct (and it’s only a guess), they’re looking for traces of specific bacteria which would be characterized by the presence of certain DNA (or possibly RNA, in this case) sequences. If you can cut through the science-for-the-layman-ese, here’s a link that attempts to explain: http://people.ku.edu/~jbrown/pcr.html

    As I mentioned, the articles leave open lots of questions.

  12. Paul Freedman

    C-Girl: OK: I didn’t know that viruses could have either RNA or DNA and that trace R/DNA can be recovered from a corpse, as also here:

    http://www.gladwell.com/1997/1997_09_29_a_flu.htm

    If halacha approves of autopsies for medical purposes, then I don’t know what Haredirioter’s specific beef is.

  13. gross

    Paul:

    Bacterial Meningitis is not viral and RNA is irrelevant. If I am not mistaken, as a result of a systemic meningitis infection, there can exist visible mutations in the Human DNA sequence but it leaves me wondering about the significance/necessity of DNA testing. Perhaps the causative agent of the meningitis is no longer in existence as the organism has expired and human DNA testing is the only way to determine infection in this case…

  14. C-Girl

    gross-

    Huh??? What’s your source? Maybe it’s time to check your science teacher’s credentials. Try this link for more info: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=15491382&dopt=Abstract

  15. gross

    C-Girl:

    What is your point? rRNA only exists to replicate DNA. DNA is replicated through mRNA and rRNA that carries out mRNA instructions. The RNA is not an autonomous nucleic acid component as we find in almost all Hepatitis strains(except for HBV) which indicate the virus itself as being an RNA Virus. Bacterial meningitis is a result from a BACTERIA not a VIRUS. Viral Meningitis stems from a virus and is rarely fatal. Know the difference.

  16. C-Girl

    From the J Post:
    “The judge ordered that the body be transferred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir, but stipulated that testing not begin until noon on Monday.”

    A seminal issue appears to be that the testing would not have begun until today, further delaying shiva and adding to the trauma that the family is surely experiencing.

    However one feels about the haredi vs. state issues, we shouldn’t forget the core of the situation: A family has lost a child, and neither the court nor the community had any business turning this into such a spectacle.

  17. C-Girl

    Thank you for the clarification, gross. In all my years working with these things, imagine my surprise at finding out that I don’t know the difference between them!

    My point was that, in very young children, bacterial meningitis (yes, I meant to write that) is difficult to diagnose because babies often don’t present classic symptoms. Depending on how specific they’d need these (at this point, hypothetical, since I don’t know for sure because I’m not involved) tests to be, forensic scientists have a dizzyingly wide variety of diagnostic tests at their disposal. And some really, truly do rely on rRNA detection. For bacterial sequences.

    And I don’t really feel the need to debate this further, as my original post was merely intended to fill in some info missing from the journalist’s piece. Not to get into a dog fight over microorganisms.

  18. gross

    Cool.

    Perhaps the journalist has no clue 😉

  19. Paul Freedman

    I think we can agree that some form of probable RNA analysis as a disease marker was the intent but I don’t see the point of the riots: are some haradiim opposed to autopsies or was it outrage at the intrusion of the state and “body snatching”? (whatever responsibility the parents have for their child’s death I don’t think these were pro-infanticide disturbances).

  20. Modern Jew

    I’ve read the comments on both sides. I also know that most Haredi are anti-Darwain. Isn’t this simply evidence that the theory of evolution is correct. Somne right wing ultra haredi parents believe that modern medicine and smart secular Jewish doctors is not as good as asking Hashem for help. The result is that their baby dies-The state should stay out of this matter.

  21. rebeljew

    Shmarya

    This is a situation that I face almost constantly, not just in the Jewish world. Magic medicine is not just some cute thing that can’t do any harm. It kills people. It impoverishes people. And it does so with the full haskama of governments, insurance companies, and major media. The number of people who think that homeopathy has some basis in reality, is a scientific notuion, or has some major study behind it is staggering.

    But characterizing this as a charedi problem is not fair. It is a problem universally. As American icon, Benjamin Franklin, said “there are no greater liars than quacks, except their patients.”

  22. The rioting and the stealing of the baby’s body IS a haredi problem.

  23. Yankif Yosif

    What do doctors know anyways? They’re a bunch of apikorsim went to college! The haredis obviously know better then the doctors because they have Das Toyreh”.

  24. Paul Freedman

    Antibiotics is not exactly Darwin imo, but I still don’t understand how the haradiim who rioted explained the reason for the riots or if they just let their actions speak for themselves.

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