Friday, November 30, 2007

Boy dies aftter refusing treatment on religious grounds

You can read the article here. Basically, the story is that a 14 year old denied a blood transfusion which had the possibility of extending his life. The boy was a Jehovah's Witness, and according to their faith, a blood transfusion would make on unworthy, or unclean to enter the Kingdom of God. Thinking universally, I don't know if the state should step in in every case to choose to extend life, however, these kind of deaths seem senseless. The question would then become where to draw the line. We will force blood transfusions, but not continue life support if the patient has indicated not to. Or, should these crazy, dangerous, religious beliefs not be tolerated anymore? Should that be allowed as a reason to refuse a treatment? Then again, should a white supremacist be allowed to refuse a transfusion because it may contain "impure" blood?


JJones said...

Misinterpreting the Old Testament prohibition against eating animal blood as a routine food item, in 1945, the WatchTower Society began teaching that receiving a blood transfusion was "eating human blood". Jehovah's Witnesses believe that receiving an infusion of human blood into their body's circulatory system is scientifically the exact same thing as eating or ingesting blood into their body's digestive system:

"A patient in the hospital maybe fed through the mouth, through the nose, or through the veins. When sugar solutions are given intravenously it is called intravenous feeding. So the hospital's own terminology recognizes as feeding the process of putting nutrition into one's system via the veins. Hence the attendant administering the transfusion is feeding the patient through the veins, and the patient receiving it is eating through his veins." -- The WATCHTOWER magazine, July 1, 1951.

Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that when human blood is transfused into their body's circulatory system that the transfused human blood remains to be human blood and continues to function as human blood. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that if blood is eaten, then the ingested blood enters the body's digestive system, where the blood would be treated by the body exactly the same as it would treat a hotdog, a potato chip, or any other food item. Ingested blood would be completely digested and broken down into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and waste; which are then either assimilated or excreted by the body.

The WatchTower Society uses scriptures which speak about the blood of slaughtered animals to teach Jehovah's Witnesses that blood is "sacred" because blood is the "symbol of life". Then, the WatchTower Society turns around and requires Jehovah's Witnesses to sacrifice their own "life" to maintain the alleged "sacredness" of a "symbol" of the very thing they are sacrificing -- their life. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that the WatchTower doctrine on blood moronically places a higher value on the SYMBOL than it does on the THING SYMBOLIZED

In fact, the Old Testament scriptures permitted the eating of unbled animal meat, which the Bible treats exactly the same as eating animal blood itself. In isolated occasions, when humans needed to eat unbled meat in order to sustain their own human life, the Mosaic Law permitted such, but then required the eaters to fulfill the requirements of being "unclean" for a few days. Thus, the Bible recognized that the sustaining of human life was more "sacred" than maintaining the sacredness of animal blood. To do otherwise would be doing exactly what the moronic WatchTower Society does. It would make the SYMBOL more SACRED than the THING SYMBOLIZED.

In fact, the WatchTower Society is leading Jehovah's Witnesses to disobey GOD and violate the Holy Scriptures in one of the most serious ways possible. Because humans were created in GOD's image, GOD considers human life sacred. A Jehovah's Witness who sacrifices their SACRED LIFE in order to maintain the sacredness of a SYMBOL of that SACRED LIFE varies little from those who profane life by committing suicide. Those Jehovah's Witness Elders who teach and police this moronic doctrine vary little from common accessories to murder. The Bible is fairly clear in how GOD views murder, and how He deals with Murderers.

This moronic twisting of scripture would be laughable if not for the fact that it has lead to the pointless deaths of numerous Jehovah's Witnesses in the past, and it will continue to lead to the pointless deaths of many more Jehovah's Witnesses in the future.

The following website summarizes over 315 U.S. court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah's Witness Parents, including 200+ cases where the JW Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions for their dying children:


Miguel said...

You need to understand that JW's do not leave their own out to die when the situation of blood comes to head in a medical situation. This is absolutely untrue. If it were not for the beliefs of JW's, research and progression in the medical field for bloodless treatments would be at a minimum. The fact is that JW's do not take blood transfusions but do accept other forms of medical treatment that can possibly aid the situation. This is not the twisting of biblical scripture, this is biblical fact. Put it this way, if you were Jewish, would you like someone to shove pork down your throat?? obviously not because it is a part of your beliefs. You may say well were talking about blood and life and that's only pork, but in actuality, if you're Jewish, that's not only pork, that's you life you are playing with. Essentially based upon the beliefs of Jews, eating pork is a sin and punishable with your life. You need to educate yourself concerning other people's beliefs and understand the full scope of things.

JKC said...

I always find it strange when there's a comment that exceeds the original post in length.

I agree that it's a slippery slope to force medical treatment of any kind on anyone against their will. Sure there might be situations where it makes sense, but I don't know that there's a principled way to draw the line.

"should a white supremacist be allowed to refuse a transfusion because it may contain "impure" blood?"

Hmmm. On the one hand, I say yes, but they should not then get the option to demand racially "pure" blood. Take it or leave it and if you leave it and die, you get what you deserve.

On the other hand, that would interfere with the autonomy of a willing racist blood donor to furnish blood for the racist who needs blood. (Autonomy is kind of important in medical ethics.) And allowing the racist to die in the hospital could turn him into a martyr and seemingly legitimize his racist heroics.

Bjorn said...

I understand other's beliefs, but I can still criticize them as crazy, and dangerous. Just because it's someone's religious beliefs, does not mean that it is beyond judgment. According to the Bible, disobedient children should be stoned to death. Do we practice that anymore, no. But, we aren't following the Law of God then, we're putting our lives in jeopardy! Please.

apa said...

Why do you guys keep saying the foundation of the JW's belief is based on the old testament? Acts 15:28, 29 reads:

For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to YOU, except these necessary things, 29 to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication. If YOU carefully keep yourselves from these things, YOU will prosper. Good health to YOU!”

Also Acts 15:19-21 reads:

Hence my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, 20 but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For from ancient times Moses has had in city after city those who preach him, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.”

Thats the new testament.

Bjorn said...

No one made a claim that the New Testament overrode the commandments of the Old. And, I'm an atheist anyway, so I'd say if you were using a text of a book form thousands of years old to justify your own death, that's your own fault, I'm not going to convince you otherwise.

However, since you brought it up, lets look at the passages from Acts which justify the actions of Jehovah's Witnesses. Since you're relying so heavily on texts, you'd want to make sure you had the text translated correctly, especially if it's a matter of life and death. I'd say that the word "blood" in this context refers to eating blood, as in the blood of an animal, and has no relation to a blood transfusion. The second text you refer to is simply the pretext of the letter which follows which you first mentioned. Also of note, is a prohibition in some texts of "fornication" when translated from older manuscripts would actually be a prohibition against cult prostitution.

Danny Haszard said...

Jehovah's Witnesses elders will investigate and disfellowship any Jehovah Witness who takes a blood transfusion,to say the issue is a 'personal conscience matter' is subterfuge to keep the Watchtower out of lawsuits.

Many Jehovah's Witnesses men,women and children die every year worldwide due to blood transfusion ban.Rank & file Jehovah's Witness are indoctrinated to be scared to death of blood.

1) JW's DO USE many parts aka 'fractions' aka components of blood,so if it's 'sacred' to God why the hypocritical contradiction flip-flop?

2) They USE blood collections that are donated by Red cross and others but don't donate back,more hypocrisy.

3) The Watchtower promotes and praises bloodless elective surgeries,this is a great advancement indeed.BUT it's no good to me if I am bleeding to death from a car crash and lose half my blood volume and need EMERGENCY blood transfusion.

Know this,the reason that JW refuse blood is because of their spin on the 3000 year old Biblical old testament,modern medicine will eventually make blood donations and transfusions a thing of the past.When this technology happens it won't vindicate the Jehovah's Witnesses and all the deaths that have occured so far.
The Watchtower's rules against blood transfusions will eventually be abolished (very gradually to reduce wrongful death lawsuit liability) even now most of the blood 'components' are allowed.
In 20 years there will be artificial blood and the Red Cross will go on with other noble deeds.

None of these changes will absolve the Watchtower leaders or vindicate their twisted doctrines
Are there dangers from blood?There are over 500 aspirin deaths in USA yearly.
Danny Haszard born 1957 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness

apa said...

'Bloodless surgery is not only for Jehovah's Witnesses but for all patients. I think that every doctor should be engaged in it.'—Dr. Joachim Boldt, professor of anesthesiology, Ludwigshafen, Germany.

"Most physicians have knee-jerk reactions with transfusions and just give them out liberally and indiscriminately. I don't."—Dr. Alex Zapolanski, director of cardiac surgery at the San Francisco Heart Institute.

Oh and this scripture is for ones that had the truth and then became apostates:

2 Peter 2:20-22
Certainly if, after having escaped from the defilements of the world by an accurate knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they get involved again with these very things and are overcome, the final conditions have become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have accurately known the path of righteousness than after knowing it accurately to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 The saying of the true proverb has happened to them: “The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.”

cdp said...

Bethany Hughes was give 38 blood transfusions against her wishes and shortly after died. In Canada the Charter of Rights allows those 18 and older to decide on treatment. Medical ethics dictate that all mature children should be allowed to decide unless their competence has been compromised.

Even though five pediatricians and psychiatrists found Bethany to be mature enough to decide her own treatment, the courts ruled she was pressured by her religion and didn't have a free, informed will.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal.

Doctors and scientists are realizing that blood transfusions are unsafe and pose unnecessary risks to the one taking them. Unfortunately because is it cheaper than bloodless surgery, it is still being used.

Would you not want the highest quality health care? Would YOU have a blood transfusion knowing the risks and dangers of it?

Megan Watland said...

But where do you draw the line at what is considered "senseless" refusal of medical treatment? Is only religious justification senseless, or could any lifestyle choice that interferes with medical decisions be included?

As long as a patient is aware of the risks associated with their "crazy, dangerous" beliefs, I'm fine with them making an informed decision about their medical treatment.

Bjorn said...

Are there other life style choices which affect which medical care people receive? There is also the issue of coercion, and whether 14 is old enough to make an informed decision, which was properly brought before a court to decide. Would it be appropriate for Jehovah's Witnesses to proselytize in hospitals, encouraging people to refuse blood transfusions? I'd say people have their own freedom, but people can also be convinced of the most ridiculous things, like vaccines cause autism, where the state should step in and say, no, you need to get vaccinated. Why do we force the children of Christian Scientists to receive life saving treatment, against the child and the parent's will?

Megan Watland said...

How about the vegan who doesn't want a flu shot that was cultured in a chicken embryo, or doesn't want a porcine heart valve transplant?

The point is that medical decisions should be made on an individual basis between a doctor and his patient, not based on what you or I or anyone else considers to be rational. The doctor-patient relationship is based on mutual respect, which includes taking a patient's moral code into consideration.

There will always be ethical questions like what to do about minors or people not capable of making a decision about medical treatment, but I would hate to lose the right to refuse to accept a treatment that I don't want. Don't tell me that you follow your doctor's orders to the letter?

Bjorn said...

I think the issue becomes more important when there is an immediate threat of death. Suicide is against social norms, and against the law, but medically, could be seen as someone actively making a choice in treatment. However, we don't allow suicide. Shouldn't that be a right of a patient? I'm just saying that when the state steps in and forces a decision is inconsistent. Also, the problem becomes larger, and more note worthy then life is at stake. In the UK, the 14 year old with leukemia would not have had the choice to refuse treatment. Is that wrong? I also think that would be a pretty devoted vegan to refuse a porcine valve, if death was certain without it, and there were no other options. Especially when the effect of refusal is death, and the effect of acceptance is a violation of a personal philosophy. On the JW side, refusal is death, with a better chance to get in good with God, and acceptance means life, but an eternity in some fiery pit of unpleasantness.

Chris Schommer said...

I think this debate already happened with hospice. Yes it is OK to refuse medical treatment that may save or extend your life and no that is not suicide.

The rub in this case is the fact he is 14, and his parents wanted him to do it. So the real question is, can the parents of a 14 year old force him to take medical care, or can't they?