Last week there were reports of the sad death of a young Irish JW, Sarah O'Leary.
I haven't noticed if anyone else wrote to the Irish newspapers, but this is the letter I wrote:
Gorey Echo, Friday 2 Dec: "Father tells of sorrow on losing Sarah" http://www.unison.ie/gorey_echo/stories.php3?ca=38&si=1519384&issue_id=13366 This was a tragic story of the death of a young girl from her injuries in a car accident, complicated by her Jehovah's Witness parent's refusal to consent to a blood transfusion. However, the situation whereby courts make Jehovah's Witness children wards of the State allows their parents to abdicate their responsibility for the consequences of their foolish and misguided beliefs. W hat I thought most telling was when Sarah O'Leary's father said : "It is always a difficult decision to make for any Witness family but, for us, it wasn’t a great test of our faith because we knew that the doctors would have to do this." No doubt the father is sincere when he says it was a "difficult decision," but the harsh reality is there was no decision about it, because as soon as the parents refused to consent to a blood transfusion, they knew the S tate would step in and grant it . And while I've no doubt he meant it when he said it was a "difficult decision," I'll wager he and his wife were extremely grateful to know that the S tate would step in to help their child. How can it be a "difficult decision" when you know for a fact that the State will shield your child from the possibly fatal consequences of your foolishness ? So though the father was no doubt sincere when he said that it was a "difficult dec i sion," he betrayed how he really felt about it when he went on to admit , "it wasn't a great test of our faith." But how much has the State, by requiring the courts to intervene in such decisions and thereby letting Jehovah's Witness parents 'off the hook , ' permitted the Watchtower Society (the Jehovah's Witness headquarters organisation) to perpetuate their 'blood policy' without consequence? While in this instance Sarah sadly died despite receiving a blood transfusion, on other occasions similarly-aged children in similar circumstances have successfully persuaded a court that they fully support their religion's tenets and have therefore been allowed to refuse potentially life-saving treatments. Courts do not usually intervene where adult Jehovah's Witnesses are involved, and newspapers around the world report their deaths with depressing regularity. Individual Jehovah's Witnesses do not independently reach the conclusion that blood transfusions are unscriptural, but do so as a result of being repeatedly told, in the literature of the Watchtower Society, that blood transfusions clearly contravene God's laws in the Bible and the hazards of damaged immunity, infection and disease make them just not worth the risk, anyway. The question therefore arises: a s the corporate ' controlling mind ' behind the teachings that result in thousands of ritual suicides, how much responsibility ought the Watchtower Society bear for the consequent costs of their beliefs, towards society in general and the grieving families in particular? For example, the Watchtower Society urges its followers to request 'non-blood medical management,' which includes injections of erythropoietin, a hugely expensive hormone which, over time, stimulates the body's own production of red blood cells and thus, they reason, reduces the necessity of blood transfusion. Is it reasonable for our health care system to bear this expense? Families lose fathers, mothers and children and the financial impact on the family can be catastrophic. Is it reasonable for our social security system to bear this expense? In addition, families who lose fathers, mothers and children are left to deal with chronic emotional trauma, and the financial impact can be equally devastating. Is it again reasonable for our social security system to also bear this expense? Perhaps a law that required such a 'controlling mind' to reimburse our health care system and to provide proper financial compensation for families, might cause those leading such organisations to rethink their irresponsible policies. I fully sympathise with the O'Learys over the tragic loss of their daughter. What they have been through must be a parent's worst nightmare. But I can have no sympathy whatsoever with a religious organisation that deliberately encourages their followers to refuse potentially life-saving medical treatment. Regards,
The addresses I sent it to are: