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 aph.gov.au 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." http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/pnj/access/2619871771.html?FMT=ABS&date=Mar+27%2C+2012
It is tragic to think of the children that did not receive such a chance, and were sacrificed by their parents misguided faith.