Posts Tagged ‘courts’
Thanks to Rebecca for sending me this story from the BBC News site. The court upheld a previous legal ruling that against Miss K’s wishes it was legal for her to be given a blood transfusion, after a hemorrhage from giving birth. Her refusal is based on the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine that a blood transfusion is the same as eating blood and that the blood is sacred unto god.
In many ways the court has upheld reason and science. For one, drinking blood and having a transfusion is not the same thing. It is the only medical treatment that in a critical blood loss could make a difference – there is no substitute that could work in time. To deny medical treatments based on the superstitions of people that were ignorant of biology thousands of years ago is not one that can be held to be reasonable.
However, did the courts have the moral right to overturn a person’s decision on their treatment – even though it is based on ignorance of the human body, superstition and belief in the supernatural? I have argued that a person has the right to refuse treatment, but not for those reasons for their child – that is nothing less than child abuse, and no hospital or court should cave in to such irrationality.
However the only way that I can try and say that this libertarian instinct on individual rights can be overturned would be if the decision of an autonomous, rational, self-willing human being’s judgment on this issue is impaired. That the decision is based on false information, that the decision is based on fear of the local Kingdom Hall, fear of a wrathful god, and the hope that death in this situation is a passport to a paradise earth after Armageddon.
With regards the protocol that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are calling for should a blood transfusion be issued to a believer – I hope this is rejected out of hand. The claims that medical treatment is a personal choice is lost when the clergy are allowed to make representations for their faith. The ultimate decision must rest with the patient and the doctor. Further, the doctor is probably the very first qualified medical person that can explain what a blood transfusion is and how the human body works – free from endless biblical quotations and references to what the great big scary sky fairy has said (attributed).
I have argued that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult (and follow up blog here). In no way can a fully indoctrinated person be said to be autonomous in the situation of deciding to have a blood transfusion. It is not based on an open minded analysis of what the bible means, of independent thought, nor subject to outside scrutiny. To challenge the Society on this issue is to risk disfellowshipping, and those within the organisation that are campaigning do so in the shadows. As an unbeliever, my views can be considered a part of this world run by Satan – indeed according to the super-naturalism of their dogma I could be writing this blog inspired by the devil in the same way the bible writers were inspired by god.
The court’s decision can be supported in that it does not allow for the tyranny on the human mind of ignorant superstition that goes against the welfare of the patient. Because the patient did not consent they have technically not sinned in the eyes of their god – indeed one may rationalise that this is the best outcome for someone in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and that this dogma produces such hypocrisy as a “Get out of Shoal” card.
To refuse the treatment goes against the welfare of the patient, the welfare of their child who would have grown up without her natural mother. It goes against the welfare of society that would be deprived of someone that could make a contribution as a citizen. The only winner with her death would have been superstition and the power of group rule mentality that indoctrinates people to refuse all other things but what the group teachings, and their hegemony in all matters to do with living, nature and cosmology – the total acceptance that the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society knows best the will of god, that his name is Jehovah and that only they will be saved.
I hope that people will one day grow intolerant of people propagating a false view that literally is a matter of life and death. If you do too please consider organising a blood drive as part of the “Blood Challenge – Life Over Death”.