A woman who objected to an autopsy being performed on the body of her young son on the basis that it conflicted with her religious beliefs dropped her efforts to block the examination yesterday.
The mother, in a civil suit believed to be the first in the District challenging an autopsy on religious grounds, said that it was contrary to Islamic beliefs to make incisions on the bodies of the dead and sought to block the autopsy of her 9-year-old son who drowned in her swimming pool on Friday.
Lawyers for the woman, Daa'iyah Pasha, withdrew the suit yesterday because it was too emotionally draining for her to resist the autopsy. A D.C. Superior Court judge had granted Pasha a temporary restraining order on Tuesday blocking the autopsy and had scheduled a hearing on the case yesterday.
Following the withdrawal of the suit, a "limited autopsy" was performed on the body of Abdul Nuriddin yesterday and the cause of death was ruled a "drowning," according to deputy D.C. medical examiner Dr. Michael Bray.
Lawyers for the District had argued on Tuesday that the medical examiner's office is required by law to certify causes of death. Although there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances in this case, an autopsy was needed to confirm the cause of death, a deputy corporation counsel said later.
Lawyers for Pasha had countered that she had a First Amendment religious right to refuse the autopsy unless the District could demonstrate a compelling need for the examination. Since there was no indication of foul play, lawyer Warren Anthony Fitch said in the suit, that standard had not been met.
"Our religion has a set of beliefs and principles regarding the preparation of bodies for burial," wrote Iman Sultan Muhammad, in an affidavit in support of Pasha's request. Muhammad is the religious leader at the Masjid Muhummad where Pasha is a member.
"Essentially, those principles require that the body be placed in the ground in its natural state . . . , " he said.
Abdul drowned at his mother's new home in Clinton and was pronounced dead at D.C.'s Greater Southeast Community Hospital.