Blood Transfusions and Children's Rights

by jwfacts 13 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • jwfacts

    I am adding a section to my article on blood transfusions and would like the following critiqued and improved upon.

    Rights of Children

    Parents have a duty of care towards their children and governmental authorities are expected to remove a child from a parent that is mistreating or endangering a child. This is a particularly sensitive issue when parents allow religious beliefs to affect the care they provide. When a Witness refuses blood for a child in a life or death situation, it is common for courts to rule against Witnesses and administer a transfusion, and rightfully so.

    The Watchtower Society conceded to Australian parliament that it accepts the law to take Witness children off their parents, in life and death cases.

    "Senator SCHACHT - I see. I just want to turn now to the well-documented case from your point of view about children and the complaint that we have laws in Australia in all states giving medical practitioners the right to overrule the parents.
    Mr Toole - We are not saying in our recommendation that the law should not exist. What we have said is that there may well be circumstances arise where it does become an absolute life and death issue. We have said that in those circumstances that is the way the law should be framed. In its present form, the law is not framed that way and it allows an invasion of the family and an overruling of the principles of that family in circumstances that really do not call for that at all." (COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA, Official Committee Hansard, JOINT COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE, Reference: Australia's efforts to promote and protect freedom of religion and belief FRIDAY, 15 OCTOBER 1999 as shown at as at 27th May 2006)

    When a child is born it has no "beliefs", these are imposed upon a child by its parents. In the case of Jehovah's Witnesses, it is estimated that two thirds eventually leave the religion. Is it acceptable for a parent to put their child's life at risk for a belief that the child is statistically unlikely to agree with in adulthood?

    A Witness child is trained to say that a court enforced blood transfusion is akin to being raped.

    "The judge wrote: “D.P. [a minor] testified she would resist having a blood transfusion in any way that she could. She considered a transfusion an invasion of her body and compared it to rape. She asked the Court to respect her choice and permit her to continue at [the hospital] without Court ordered blood transfusions.” The Christian instruction she had received came to her aid at this difficult time.—See box.
    A 12-year-old girl was being treated for leukemia. A child-welfare agency took the matter to court so that blood could be forced on her. The judge concluded: “L. has told this court clearly and in a matter-of-fact way that, if an attempt is made to transfuse her with blood, she will fight that transfusion with all of the strength that she can muster. She has said, and I believe her, that she will scream and struggle and that she will pull the injecting device out of her arm and will attempt to destroy the blood in the bag over her bed. I refuse to make any order which would put this child through that ordeal . . . With this patient, the treatment proposed by the hospital addresses the disease only in a physical sense. It fails to address her emotional needs and her religious beliefs.” Watchtower 1991 Jun 15 p. 17

    Such a statement is emotionally compelling when uttered by a child, but a minor that has undergone a life of one-sided indoctrination on blood is not in a position to make an informed decision on such a complex subject.

    It is not possible to ask the children that were sacrificed for their religion how they feel about dying as martyrs. It is however possible to find out how children that survived a blood transfusion feel, after a court order forced a blood transfusion upon them. Following is one such case.

    "Pensacola attorney Joel Cohen was just skimming his email when a sentence jumped out at him: "You saved my life when I was a baby."… "It raised the hair on my neck," he said.
    The email was from Carolynn Ivey Evans, a 36-year-old Ohio woman who might have died as an infant without Cohen's legal efforts.
    Twins Carolynn and Julia Ivey were born on Aug. 31, 1975, in Panama City. When their parents brought the girls, months premature and weighing less than 2 pounds each, to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola for treatment, doctors determined they needed blood transfusions to save their lives.
    But the girls' parents were Jehovah's Witnesses whose faith, based on biblical interpretation, prohibits blood transfusions.
    Very quickly, the Escambia County Circuit Court intervened, and a judge appointed Cohen, a young attorney in private practice, as the girls' guardian ad litem. … So Cohen hopped on a plane to Tallahassee, where the 1st District Court of Appeal immediately ordered the physician - who testified that he felt the transfusions were medically necessary - to perform the procedures on the week-old infants.
    For Carolynn Ivey Evans — she is married now, living in Ohio — the email to Cohen was part of a search for identity.
    "I'm 36 now and a mother of four," she wrote in an email to the Pensacola News Journal for this story. "For years, I have wondered what had happened to me and my twin sister. I started my search six months ago via Internet and was so surprised at how big the story really is. ... "So I contacted Mr. Cohen (to thank him) for saving my life. If it was not for Mr. Cohen fighting for me, I would not be here today! It brought me to tears that he would try so hard."

    It is tragic to think of the children that did not receive such a chance, and were sacrificed by their parents misguided faith.

  • jwfacts

    Also, do you agree with the following summary?

    Blood Transfusions and Rape

    The Watchtower compares a court enforced blood transfusion to rape.

    "Especially is this true since the Bible links abstinence from blood with such things as abstinence from fornication. Hence, since Christians would resist rape—a defiling sexual assault—so they would resist court-ordered blood transfusions—also a form of assault on the body." Watchtower 1980 Jun 15 p.23

    "One sister responded to a judge that in such a case she would not be responsible for what he decided. While correct from one point of view, the judge took it to mean that since she would not be held responsible, then he would take the responsibility for her. He ordered a transfusion.
    You must understand that in asking these questions, some are usually looking for a way around your refusal to accept blood. Do not inadvertently give it to them! So how would we avoid that misunderstanding? You could reply: “If blood is forced on me in any way, it would be the same to me as being raped. I would suffer the emotional and spiritual consequences of that unwanted attack on me for the rest of my life. I would resist with all my strength such a violation of my body without my consent. I would make every effort to prosecute my attackers just as I would in a case of rape.”" Kingdom Ministry 1990 Nov p.6

    Rape is generally violent and traumatic, with long-term emotional repercussions. A blood transfusion is no more traumatic than the rest of an operation, apart from the doctrinally imposed guilt that such a medical procedure will destroy a person's relationship with God and their chance of everlasting life. In the case of a forced transfusion, this guilt is particularly unfair, as is the statement that rape is "a defiling sexual assault". The sentiment harks back to Watchtower statements linking rape with fornication.

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    Haha. . . I remember going over this shit at the meeting. I remember one sister (who had been sexually abused by her father) getting real emotional and commenting how you should scream and try to run just like in a rape situation if doctors were to ever try to "force" you to save your life with a transfusion.

    I believe the comment was met with bobbleheadding of approval. . .

  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer


    Thanks for adding more material addressing Watchtower’s blood doctrine in respect to children. We all know this is the most vulnerable population amongst us, and these need all the support they can get.

    A tremendously telling aspect of Watchtower teaching is its position that court ordered transfusion is rape.

    If courts ordered rape the response would be resist at all costs. This is how Witnesses responded to Nazi demands for submission to State authority. Witnesses would have rather died than give themselves to the State.

    Yet in the face of looming court ordered blood transfusion for children Watchtower position is expressed well by one of its representatives who in 1999 wrote, "The parents are not asked to consent to the use of blood, but are encouraged to recognize the situation in law."—(Malyon, Transfusion-free treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses: respecting the autonomous patient's rights, Journal of Medical Ethics, 1998; 24:302-307)

    The question is, if Jehovah’s Witnesses really held court ordered blood transfusion on par with rape would they be encouraging one another to “recognize the situation in law” or would they be advising one another to resist the “rape” because, well, it's rape?!!!

    There is so much on this subject the public needs full realization of, and among medical providers in particular. The work you do on this subject is an act of benevolence.

    When I have more time I’ll read though and comment on more of your latest.

    Keep up the good work!

    Marvin Shilmer

  • Phizzy

    I particularly like the following phrase:

    "..........a minor that has undergone a life of one-sided indoctrination on blood is not in a position to make an informed decision on such a complex subject."

    I do not see how you can make that stand out more from the rest of the article than you have, it already has its own paragraph, but I think it is such an important point to get across to lawyers or judges particularly who may read your article.

    In the past some Judges have seemed satisfied that a child can make its own decision simply beacause the child is forthright and expresses itself well, this shows that to be a bad judgement, the child raised as a JW is not fully informed in the matter.

    A good article as usual, well done, keep up the good work !

  • Refriedtruth

    Well done and bookmarked.

    Watchtower monitors and others visit this associated post on Jehovah's Witnesses children blood transfusions

  • BluesBrother

    If the Dub parents do as they are directed, the kids will be coached as to what to say :

    KM 2005 p 6

    "Could Your Child Make a Mature Decision?

    1 A mature decision about what? Blood transfusions. As shown in the article entitled “Walk as Instructed by Jehovah” in the June 15, 1991, issue of The Watchtower, children of Jehovah’s Witnesses have had to take a mature stand to prove that their desire to obey God’s law on blood is as important to them as it is to their parents. Could that also be required of your minor child?

    2 What Does the Law Say? In the United States, the highest court that has ruled on a mature minor’s right to refuse blood transfusions is the Illinois Supreme Court. In reviewing the case of a 17-year-old sister, the court decreed: “If the evidence is clear and convincing that the minor is mature enough to appreciate the consequences of her actions [and] to exercise the judgment of an adult, then the mature minor doctrine affords her the common law right to consent to or refuse medical treatment.” Thus, in assessing whether a child is mature enough to make his own decision, doctors or officials may interview the patient to hear him express his personal objection to taking blood. The youth would need to understand reasonably the gravity of his medical condition and the consequences of his options for treatment and clearly and firmly express his own religious belief about God’s law on blood.

    3 What Would Your Child Say? Are your children able to express themselves on this issue? Do they believe with all their heart that it is a divine command to ‘abstain from blood’? (Acts 15:29; 21:25) Can they explain their belief from the Scriptures? Would they courageously defend their firm decision about blood if doctors believed that their life was in jeopardy, even if their parents were not present? Since “time and unforeseen occurrence befall [us] all,” how can you prepare your children for any unexpected challenge to their integrity?—Eccl. 9:11; Eph. 6:4.

    4 Parents, What Can You Do? You have the responsibility to teach your children God’s view of blood. (2 Tim. 3:14, 15) A clear explanation is found in the Reasoning book, pages 70-4. Study it carefully with your family. Using the feature “If Someone Says—” on pages 74-6, conduct practice sessions with your children to help them gain experience in explaining what they believe and why. (1 Pet. 3:15) Other provisions for educating us about the blood issue include the brochure How Can Blood Save Your Life? and The Watchtower of June 15, 2004, pages 14-24. In addition, the video programs Transfusion-Alternative Health Care—Meeting Patient Needs and Rights and No Blood—Medicine Meets the Challenge, which are currently available on the DVD entitled Transfusion Alternatives—Documentary Series, give convincing information about the reasonableness and effectiveness of bloodless medicine and surgery. Has your family watched and discussed these presentations recently?

    5 Help your children ‘prove to themselves what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God’ is regarding blood. Then they can make a mature decision that has Jehovah’s blessing.—Rom. 12:2."

    I was once an idealistic youngster with the WTS who believed it all , hook line and sinker. They are happy to use the word "inculcate" in respect of child training. The synonyms of that word include :

    "Brainwash, break down, drum into, indoctrinate, instill, program etc" at "thesaurus .com"

  • jwfacts

    Thanks for the comments and additional quotes. I love the synonyms for inculcate - brainwash, hammer into.

  • whathappened

    Very well written article and easy to follow.

    I just had a heart to heart talk about the blood issue with my daughter, who has a 4 year old son. I compared letting him die because of refusing a blood transfusion was the same thing as child sacrifice. Wasn't child sacrifice condemned in the Bible? Does Jehovah expect us to sacrifice our children up to him like they sacrificed animals in the Old Testament. What's the difference between offering them up in the fire or just letting them die in the hospital from a lack of blood? It's the same thing. You are sacrificing a life to God, and it's not even you own life, it's someone elses. I thought we didn't have the right to take another's life. I asked her if she let her husband die, wouldn't that be human sacrifice?

    The argument resonated with her, I could tell she finally got it. She told me she would think about it.

  • jwfacts

    I compared letting him die because of refusing a blood transfusion was the same thing as child sacrifice.

    That is a good point, and a term I will try to incorporate.

    I would like an alternative viewpoint from a JW apologist. Where is Recovery when you need him?

  • sizemik

    Nicely assembled Paul . . .

    It's easy to run for miles with this subject, but you've been pretty concise, while still covering the topic well. The anecdotal examples are very well chosen . . . the Joel Cohen account was especially poignant and added some unique and very important perspective.

    Such a statement is emotionally compelling when uttered by a child, but a minor that has undergone a life of one-sided indoctrination on blood is not in a position to make an informed decision on such a complex subject.

    This point here is often poorly understood or not well made . . . but brilliantly illustrated by the Cohen example.

    A thought on the summary and the rape thing . . .

    "I would resist with all my strength such a violation of my body without my consent."
    I would make every effort to prosecute my attackers just as I would in a case of rape.”"

    Incorrectly labelled food products are "a violation of my body without my consent." My point being . . . there are wide degrees of severity when it comes to personal violation, murder being the top end of the scale. To immediately pair rape and a medical procedure as having the same level of severity is very subjective . . . and arguably a logical fallacy. There is no argument for rape being beneficial or necessary . . . so the analogy is invalid for that reason alone. The link is very emotionally compelling as you mention . . . Jeez, Dr's are now "attackers" . . . so it's validity must be sound. I wonder if there are other flaws that could be highlighted that question it's validity.

  • jwfacts

    Well said Sizemilk.

    "How can blood save your life?" ( is masterful in its misleading presentation of information. Here is an ironic quote:

    "Clearly, the State can and should step in to protect a neglected child. Still, it is easy to see how very different it is when a caring parent requests high-quality nonblood medical therapy."

    Also look at the following overstatement. "No one who objectively examines the facts can deny that blood transfusions involve great risk."

  • Scully

    "'For the sons of Judah have done what is bad in my eyes,' is the utterance of Jehovah. 'They have set up their disgusting things in the house upon which my name has been called, in order to defile it. And they have built the high places of To'pheth, which is in the valley of Hinnom, in order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, a thing that I had not commanded and that had not come up into my heart.'" ~ Jeremiah 7:30, 31.

    "And you must say, 'Hear the word of Jehovah, O you kings of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem. This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: "Here I am bringing a calamity upon this place, of which when anyone hears, his ears will tingle; for the reason that they have left me and have proceeded to make sacrificial smoke in it to other gods whom they had not known, they and their forefathers and the kings of Judah; and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent ones. And they built the high places of the Ba'al in order to burn their sons in the fire as whole burnt offerings to the Ba'al, something that I had not commanded or spoken of, and that had not come up into my heart."'" ~ Jeremiah 19:3-5.

  • yadda yadda 2
    yadda yadda 2

    The Society claims that parents have the moral right to make decisions for their minor children in reliance on the opinion of a secular or Christian scholar who is quoted in the Insight Volume, I'm not sure where though. Might pay you to find that. I can try to dig it out.

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