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Bioethicist blames laws for SA organ removals

A leading bioethicist believes an anomaly in South Australia's autopsy laws, could have allowed the current controversy over the use of human organs and tissue to arise.

The State's Human Services Minister, Dean Brown, has ordered a full investigation into allegations raised on the ABC, about the unauthorised retention of organs and tissue, and the swapping of organs for convenience, prior to burial or cremation.

The Southern Cross Bioethics Institute's Dr Greg Pike believes the current autopsy laws may be open to different interpretations.

"I'm not sure I'd call it a loophole but I've only just read the Tissue Act and it's fairly clear that an autopsy ordered by the coroner does leave open the option for the tissue to be removed without the consent of next of kin and for the tissue to be used for medical, scientific or therapeutic purposes," Dr Pike said.

"It [the Act] certainly does allow for those practices to happen."

The Southern Cross Bioethics Institute is an independent agency headed by Catholic priest Dr John Fleming.