Haredim under the leadership of Zaka are demanding the end to traditional autopsies in Israel. Instead, they insist the state use MRI and CT scans to determine cause of death. Zaka is even considering paying for all or part of the machine’s cost, and Dr. Yehuda Hiss, Israel’s head pathologist, is on his own, without Zaka involvement or haredi influence, traveling to Europe for an extended visit to learn how to use the machines for autopsies. The problem? While MRIs and CT scans can reduce the number of autopsies, they cannot eliminate all autopsies. Further, Zaka demands the machines be used immediately, even though Israel has no trained pathologists to use them, something the state cannot agree to, for obvious reasons. So look for riots* and body snatchings to continue.
* The haredi apologists over at CrossCurrents seek to minimize haredi violence and law-breaking. Ha’aretz briefly notes the history of haredi behavior with regard to the autopsy issue:
The latest clashes over autopsies centered around the baby girl whose body was stolen from the Ashdod cemetery and outbreaks of violence in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in January, after the autopsy of a Kiryat Ata woman who was murdered. The conflict reached its height in the 1960s and ’70s, when ultra-Orthodox groups organized mass protests, threatened the lives of pathologists and stole bodies from medical centers. The situation settled down after 1981, when an amendment to the Anatomy and Pathology Law was passed, minimizing pathologists’ right to conduct autopsies.
Whereas before they would frequently conduct autopsies for research purposes, pathologists today must have reasonable cause to suspect foul play or to require an autopsy to determine the cause of death. If the family opposes an autopsy, the police can ask permission from the courts, which must hear the family’s arguments.
Those changes to law did not stop haredi violence and law-breaking, they only reduced their frequency. MRIs and CT scans will reduce it further, but not stop it entirely. Democracy is not a haredi virtue.