S. Florida children saved by forced blood transfusions after parents object
Twice this summer, children who needed critical blood transfusions at South Florida hospitals were helped not only by doctors, but also by fast-acting prosecutors and judges.
The doctors sought emergency state intervention after parents balked at the transfusions on religious grounds. As in most of these cases, the parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose tenets forbid blood transfusions, even when lives are at stake.
“I honestly don’t understand it, but I don’t question other people’s religious beliefs,” said Broward assistant state attorney Jim McLane, who handled the most recent case. “Somebody has to protect the best interests of the child.”
State Attorney’s Offices – which usually prosecute crime – have intervened for minors in these cases since 1993, when the Florida Supreme Court ruled it was a conflict for hospitals to directly petition judges.
“The way I look at it, at least it creates a forum for the issues to be heard,” said Maureen Hackett, a prosecutor who handles these cases for the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office
The legal threshold for a child’s court-ordered transfusion over parental objection: “Reasonable medical certainty of imminent death.”