On the Law of Cadavers
Receiving an unintentionally thought-provoking and somewhat oddly titled book recently led to some internet research on the topic of the book. The old book is entitled, ” The Law of Cadavers” second edition 1950 by Percival E. Jackson and published by Prentice Hall. The second edition was apparently required after the first edition of 1936 sold out. Over 700 pages on everything from the right to burial, disinterment, to actions and proceedings respecting dead bodies before and after burial.
It resulted in some thought on how the law evolves over time and how in our time most of the practice and procedures related to the various forms of ritualistic burial are now well established. These procedures are now governed by underlying laws that have evolved over time. But, a Global News internet article published last year drew attention to a new area of concern.
There is apparently a small but growing trend of bodies being unclaimed by anyone after death. The article suggests that 361 bodies went unclaimed in Ontario in one year (2015 statistics) and that this was more than double the number only eight years earlier. A similar number and trend was reported for Quebec.
The above-noted article focussed on a Mr. Michael Geyer who died on his own at 89 years of age with no family members to claim his body. Current procedures mandate the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee to step in, as they did in this case. However, it raises the question as to whether this is the best way to deal with this unfortunate growing trend and the role of individuals, society, or government, in providing better procedures to deal with this going forward.
Thanks for reading.