One of the key principles of Libertarianism is the reality of self-ownership. This self-ownership lasts not only through the life of the Individual, but into his death. This is clearly illustrated by the Libertarian opposition to the estate and inheritance taxes, which are a violation of inalienable Property Rights. As we pointed in our post on abolishing the estate and inheritance taxes, such taxes are violations not of the Property Rights of the inheritor, but violations of the Property Rights of the deceased.
If we hold this principle valid, then we would have to give individuals the option of declining an autopsy, when current law would mandate one, since this is literally an invasion of their property rights in their own bodies. This could be done though a codicil in their wills prohibiting an autopsy on themselves.
Many individuals and certain religious groups view autopsy as an irreligious violation of their personal or religous wishes, and their views and Rights need to be respected. This could be done by letting them include instructions in their wills that would forbid autopsy.
However, I would make two exceptions to this opting out. First, if law enforcement had a strong suspicion of foul play, like they found a bullet in your back, then the solving of such a serious “malum in se”, that is, a major crime in Libertarian Law, would take precedence over the wishes of the deceased, unless their will specifically requested the non-prosecution of their murderer. Even then, it could be debated that the non-pursuit of a murderer would be a violation of law enforcement’s responsibility to solve malum in se crimes. And it is also fairly unlikely that many citizens would request the non-prosecution of their murderers.
The second exception to the autopsy opt-out would be if the next of kin requested an autopsy, because they, for some reason, suspected foul play, even if the police did not.
Liberty means, not only doing with your body what you want during life, as long as it doesn’t violate the Libertarian Non-Aggression Axiom, but doing what you want with your body after death.
Let’s protect the dignity of the dead, defend Natural Law Property Rights, and prevent these violations of religious observance which the State is currently permitted to carry out in modern America. Let’s legalize opting-out of an autopsy.
Libertarians can vote for me on the Libertarian Primary ballot. Democrats, Republicans, and Communists can vote for me in November.
Paul Grad, paulgrad4governor.wordpress.com