Nov 262008
 

Here we go again.  Another pair of delusional religious lunatics are trying to deprive their child of the right to life by preventing a hospital from giving a blood transfusion.

The parents of a 4-year-old girl are being allowed to address the High Court to explain why they think their daughter should not receive a life-saving transfusion if it becomes necessary.

Now, you probably know what I think about this, but I’m going to tell you again anyway.

I think the parents should certainly address the court, but not about the blood transfusion.  The only reason these parents should be addressing the court is to explain why they should not immediately be flung into jail for criminal neglect of their child.  And if they aren’t jailed on the spot, they should then have to explain why the child should not be taken into care and removed from the control of two lunatics.

These people’s religious beliefs, like all religious beliefs, are simply that: beliefs.  They are not rights, they are not facts or immutable axiomatic truths.  They’re just beliefs, and they do not confer the right to endanger a harmless child.

It doesn’t matter what they believe.  It doesn’t matter if they think the Bible forbids blood transfusions.  It wouldn’t matter if they thought the moon was a giant pancake.  That’s their personal lunacy, and they’re entitled to it, as long as they don’t try to inflict it on a defenceless sick child.

There’s no rational reason why a court of law, or for that matter any other public body, should attach any weight whatever to religious beliefs, and it’s about time we stopped affording disproportionate respect to any individual’s personal delusions.

There is no absolute right in this country to practise religious beliefs.  Polygamy is illegal.  So is the ritual burning of Hindu widows.  We don’t permit female circumcision.  We don’t even allow Sikhs to wear turbans with a  police uniform, so we’re hardly going to let a baby die because some religion doesn’t like blood transfusions.

Are we?

Of course not.

If an adult chooses to refuse a blood transfusion and dies as a result, it’s another matter, but in that case, maybe they’d have the decency to go and die someplace else, instead of taking up a bed in a hospital where other patients need life-saving treatment.

Isn’t it about time that the government enacted legislation to end this constant procession of Jehovah’s Witnesses taking up the High Court’s time, and wasting hospitals’ money, with religious argumentation that has no place in a court of law?

UPDATE

As usual, and as expected, the court has rejected the parents’ case for the disgraceful idiocy that it is.

Why do we need to go through this expensive charade time after time?  Why can’t we just have a law permitting hospitals to save a child’s life no matter what delusions its parents hold?

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Previously on Bock:

Neglecting a Baby

Vegans, Jehovah Witnesses, Transubstantiation and Other Lunatic beliefs

Jehovahah’s Bystanders

Jehovah’s Witnesses Mutate

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Elsewhere:

The Watchtower Society and Medical Quackery

Beacon

  15 Responses to “Jehovah’s Witnesses and Blood Transfusions”

Comments (15)
  1.  

    hear hear bock! this is one of my all time hates.. i just think it so wrong.. and even if you turn it around and say that parents should be ‘responsible’ for children under say age of 16, make important decisions for them etc – it should never, ever include such appalling judgements such as this.. hospital staff must tear their collective hairs out trying to deal w such nightmares when god knows they’ve enough to try and cope with on your average shift anyway..

    i think jim henson of muppet fame was the first time i ever heard of this ‘against my religion’ stuff, all he needed was a blood transfusion but he chose to die instead.. always stays w me that one as he was a creative genius, so talented and part of so many children’s growing up

  2.  

    These people’s religious beliefs, like all religious beliefs, are simply that: beliefs. They are not rights, they are not facts or immutable axiomatic truths. They’re just beliefs, and they do not confer the right to endanger a harmless child.

    I couldn’t have said it better myself,perhaps just to add, religion is for those who have not evolved

  3.  

    Bloody religion pfft

  4.  

    I agree with a lot that has been said but would point out that religious beliefs worldwide have been a great consolation to people in times of stree and difficulty. But surely that’s not the issue here. The real issue is, as Bock has pointed out, that personal beliefs are one thing but inflicting them on your children to their detriment should be illegal.

  5.  

    Sure now that the blood transfusion crowd aren’t giving people Hepatitis any more what’s the problem with receiving blood?

  6.  

    Maybe they should go back to the congo or wherever they’re from ! i’m sure nobody there would object to them denying their child a chance to live !!!

  7.  

    i don’t believe that parents have the right to impose any religious beliefs on their children, and that goes for all religions, i think the spiritual dimension is very personal and should be searched for and investigated by choice. as an adult
    to put a childs health welfare and life on the line for the ludicrous unsubstantiated beliefs held by adults/parents should be classified as neglect if not downright criminal, and a childs mind is as delicate as their bodies

  8.  

    Powerful essay.

  9.  

    On the other hand, the same Witness thinking that disallows blood transfusions also disallows smoking, overdrinking, drug abuse, even participating in war. Witnesses teach those things to their children as well. Thus for every JW who dies as a result of transfusion beliefs, there have to be thousands who don’t die (compared to the general population) for their other lifestyle beliefs. I’m not sure how you can condemn one without at least acknowledging the other. Proportionately far fewer JWs and their children die from their lifestyles than the average person.

    Even from a medical standpoint, transfusion therapy is rapidly evolving. It isn’t necessarily the slam-dunk you think it is:

    http://tinyurl.com/6n9lvx

    Perhaps when they have their day in court, everyone’s mind should not be made up in advance.

  10.  

    That’s a deeply dishonest argument.

    This post is about endangering a child’s life, and has nothing whatever to do with the other things Jehovah’s Witnesses believe.

  11.  

    Everyone has a right to their beliefs, perhaps if other religions “believed” more there would have been less child molestation going on.

    There are other products that can be used instead of using blood products. Perhaps its about time Irish medicine came and joined the current times.

  12.  

    It’s very glib to say that everyone has a right to their beliefs.

    Do they really? What about the Khmer Rouge? What about the National Socialist party? Would I have the right to believe that some races are sub-human and must be exterminated?

    And even if I had to right to believe such things, would I have the right to act on my delusion?

    It doesn’t matter what these parents believe. They have no right to endanger their child.

  13.  

    tom sheepand goats firstly there is a huge difference between “disallowing” and guidance, of which a huge part is supplying children with the appropriate information during their development.
    most parents, regardless of their religion, start off “disallowing” drugs, smoking, “overdrinking” whatever overdrinking means, because you cannot teach moderation, that has to a choice, however, once a child becomes a teenager and their social net widens, influence of parents retreats to a degree as the influence of their peers and surroundings takes precedent, at that point, the foundations between parent and teenager are tested.
    many young people completly reject all forms of “disallowing” and indulge in the “forbidden” to a far greater extent than those who have benefitted from a more open and secure childhood, where questions are answered and they are encouraged to form their own opinions based on seeking the information they need on their own.
    a parent can lay down the law within their own nucleus for a very short time, usually about 14 years, then children begin the journey of finding their own way, when this is not understood and supported, their direction can be severly hampered, and religion and religious rules can only be observed when there is choice and that choice may have to be learnt the hard way, or not.
    blood transfusions cannot fall in the catagory of a “rule” because it is totally removing educated choices, and they are the right of every individual on this planet.

  14.  

    There’s nothing dishonest about the argument I’ve made. People are not just one trait. They are a collection of many, and on balance, JWs lifestyle is far “safer” than that of most groups.

    The parents involved don’t want to do nothing. They want to treat their child with the various bloodless techniques available. Perhaps the local hospital feels that’s not the best option. Perhaps it would involve transfer to another facility, maybe some distance. Perhaps the situation arose very suddenly, thus constituting an emergency. But bloodless medicine is widely available now, and that is what the parents are seeking. (Of course, I don’t know the specifics of this case, but that is how these matters typically play out.)

    Frankly, proportionately more children die in high school sports than Witness children for lack of blood transfusions. I understand this pushes emotional buttons, but everything ought be kept in context. People livid about the case have taken no interest in the child beforehand, and however this matter is resolved, will take none afterwards. I know the reasoning behind the blood position, I know the bonds of Witness families and quality of their relations. I am not so willing to pronounce judgement from afar on their parenting or beliefs.

  15.  

    This isn’t about children being injured in sports, or the way Jehovah’s Witnesses organise their lives in general, and therefore you are being dishonest in raising these irrelevant distractions.

    It’s about the possibility of a blood transfusion being necessary and parents attempting to prevent it under any circumstances.

    It’s like this. They’re in a hospital where the staff are obliged to do the best for the child according to their professional standards. If they’re not happy with that, let them go to some country where the medical staff are willing to compromise their principles and let a child die.

    Personally, I think they should be arrested and charged with attempted murder.

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