15 Mar 2009

Court suspended parental rights for one day to save boy's life with transfusion

Japan Today - March 15, 2009

Kyodo News - TOKYO
A court accepted on the same day a child consultation center’s request to suspend the parental rights of a couple who refused to let their son have a blood transfusion in 2008, enabling a hospital to save the 1-year-old boy’s life, according to sources close to the matter.

The couple rejected the hospital’s blood transfusion offer, citing ‘‘religious reasons.’’ Notified by the hospital, the center filed the request with the family court as it regarded the case, which took place in eastern Japan, as one of ‘‘medical neglect’‘—a form of child abuse.

Medical treatment for a child usually requires the approval of his or her parents. In the past, the suspension of parental rights took about a week for a case of medical neglect, but it is rare for a court to give a judgment on the same day it accepted the request.

The latest case is an example of how the child consultation center, the hospital and the family court cooperated in carrying forward legal procedures to realize urgent medical treatment.

According to the sources, the boy suffered symptoms of shock and was diagnosed with massive bleeding from the digestive tract due to unknown causes.

The hospital notified the child consultation center that the boy’s life was in danger, and around noon the following day the center asked the family court to suspend the couple’s parental rights as a stopgap measure until a conclusion on the matter had been reached.

The family court decided in about six or seven hours of deliberations that the child’s welfare must take precedence over the parents’ beliefs and accepted the request to suspend their parental rights.

Following the decision, the hospital treated the boy and his life was saved. The center later withdrew its request and the boy is now being raised by his parents again.
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