Friday, February 02, 2007

Against my better judgement...

I'm going to post about a subject I find extremely upsetting: blood transfusions and Jehovah's Witnesses.*

I'd like to draw your attention to some recent happenings in Vancouver, British Columbia which revolve around sextuplets born to parents who are Jehovah's Witnesses. Two of the babies died soon after birth. Three of the four remaining babies were subsequently seized by the BC child welfare director so that they could be given blood transfusions against their parents wishes. The parents are now taking the province to court saying that their religious rights have been violated.

You see, JWs believe the Bible is the infallible word of God and they consider the taking of blood into one's body to be a violation of Acts 15: 19, 20 and Leviticus 17: 10-14. Acceptance of a blood transfusion is one of the most serious breaches of God's law-according-to-the-JWs that a JW could ever commit.*

Oh, but they're okay with accepting organ transplants, blood products, and blood components - like albumen and hemoglobin. They can basically accept any part of the blood - just not whole blood in the form of a transfusion (or any whole blood product used in food).

I know. That really doesn't make sense to me either.

There was a case similar to this a few years ago that became a real tragedy. Only it involved a fifteen year old girl named Bethany. She refused to accept blood (although eventually it was forced upon her) and fought for the right to be considered a mature minor by the Canada court system. In the process her family was torn apart as her father - completely grief-stricken at the thought of losing his daughter - reevaluated his belief system, came to the conclusion that the JWs did not have "The Truth" after all, and that this particular religious belief was definitely not worth losing his daughter over. He began to insist that Bethany be given blood, going against the rest of the family, and in the process he was disfellowshipped and shunned by his wife and daughters - including Bethany.

The ending?

"Bethany eventually received 38 transfusions, but by the time they were administered, it was too late. She died in 2002... She was only 17-years-old."

Here's my opinion on the current BC situation, very briefly: The babies should be given blood transfusions against the parents wishes for as long as need be because they are too young to communicate their own will. Their lives should be preserved until such time that they come of legal age and are able to decide upon the matter for themselves.

P.S. Here's a fantastic article - pretty well done for a news story but not exactly unbiased imo - in which one medical ethicist says that the BC court may in fact have saved the JW parents from an agonizing, "impossible social situation."

* I may be 'picking on' them a lot over the course of this blog; I used to be one and have a lot to say as a result.
* Elliot the Claw has recently written an excellent post about the JW's very unusual interpretation of the scriptures which they claim support their anti-transfusion stance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The following website summarizes over 200 similar court cases involving Jehovah's Witness Parents who refused life-saving blood transfusions for their children: