Jehovah Witness Who Refused Transfusion Allowed to Die in UK
In two different cases the courts have declared that adults are allowed to forbid transfusions for themselves; but that they are not allowed to make that decision for minors, and that further the decision will err in favor of life vs. religious practices for underage children with the courts ordering what medical science says is necessary for continued life for the child.
This seems wholly reasonable to me, and not in the least contradictory. Adults can and should make such decisions for themselves, while children can not. In most cases parents serve as proxy for children, but in cases where the parents choose what will cause the death of the child, they must be over ruled by law.
Two cases involving Jehovah Witnesses who refused blood transfusions are in the news: a 22-year-old with sickle cell anaemia who died in the UK and a 4-year-old girl in Australia who lived after a court-ordered transfusion.
In Britain, a 22-year-old man refused a blood transfusion. After consulting lawyers, his doctors decided to respect his decision and he passed away after about three weeks in hospital. There were concerns that the man’s mother, who was with him when he died, and an elder from his church were exerting an undue influence. However, a doctor assessed him and declared that he was fully aware of what he was doing.
At the moment there are no substitutes for blood transfusions that can be offered to Jehovah’s Witnesses although researchers predict that a product will be available in 5 to 10 years.
In Adelaide, the parents of a four-year-old with leukaemia refused to allow her to have the blood transfusion she needed. Her father told the media: “We adhere to strict Bible principles and one of those is to abstain from blood. We want the best possible treatment for (her) and the hospital are doing a great job. The only thing we don’t consent to is the issue of blood.”