7 Jan 2008

Debate goes on a year after birth of sextuplets

Parents still protest transfusions given to four surviving infants
Vancouver Sun

Monday, January 07, 2008

Canada's first sextuplets were born at B.C. Women and Children's Hospital a year ago, launching a continuing debate that pits religious beliefs against the government's legal responsibility to protect children.

The premature babies, two of whom died shortly after birth, were born to a Jehovah's Witness family whose identity was protected by a court-imposed ban on publicity.

Although doctors wanted to give blood transfusions to the four surviving babies, the family protested because the medical procedure contravenes their religious beliefs that Christians must "abstain from blood."

The four surviving infants were apprehended by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development in order for the transfusions to be performed. The two boys and two girls were given one blood transfusion each.

The parents continue to protest the transfusions and apprehensions in B.C. Supreme Court, arguing that the ministry acted with undue haste when it apprehended the babies, denying them their charter rights to a judicial review before a transfusion took place, according to media reports.

Ontario lawyer Shane Brady, who represents the family, has called the ministry's actions "a gross violation" of the parents' constitutional rights.

"In media we've seen statements that not everyone agrees with these parents' religious views. But that's not what this case is about. Any parent would be upset to learn that the government could apprehend their child and interfere with the parent relationship in important matters without having to justify it in advance," Brady said previously.

This wasn't the first high-profile case of a Jehovah's Witness refusing medical treatment.

In 2001, 16-year-old Bethany Hughes of Calgary made headlines nationwide after refusing to undergo blood transfusions because of her strong Jehovah's Witness faith. Hughes died in September 2002 of leukemia after an unsuccessful court battle to refuse 38 transfusions.

In 2005, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled against the right of a 14-year-old Jehovah's Witness from Vernon to refuse lifesaving blood transfusions. The girl was suffering from a potentially fatal form of bone cancer.

In her ruling, Justice Mary Boyd said the rights of a "mature minor" to make her own medical choices do not supersede the authority of the courts in British Columbia to protect her life and safety.


1 comment:

  1. 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.

    If you take 'whole-blood' or autologous (use your own stored blood) you will be shunned by your family and friends.The Watchtower organization is in control of your life. I don't want someone else's blood in me anymore that I would want their other body parts heart,kidney,liver unless I needed a lifesaving transplant so goes the same with EMERGENCY blood transfusions.

    Blood issue at a glance: The Watchtower leadership of the Jehovah's Witnesses say NO blood, BUT they actually DO ALLOW some blood "fractions".
    Problem is this variance is so esoteric complicated that by the time special elders appear in the ER with the rule book, the JW patient is at the point of no return,bleeding to death.
    NOW,they blame the hospital staff for not having a "cell saver" machine instead of the Watchtower leaders who are responsible for making the rules.

    I was born a 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness in 1957 and endured the Watchtower's no blood commandment with longstanding bleeding Crohn's disease.The Watchtower leadership expects followers to die for their dogma and many have.The medical staff get blamed and are 'damned if they do damned if they don't'.

    In 20 years there will be artificial blood for anyone who chooses it,putting an end to this drama.