I have tweaked your letter a bit. I would also recommend sending it (and re-tweaking it appropriately) to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, and the College of Nurses of Ontario. Another excellent group of people to send this information to is the Transfusion Ontario Programs.
You also may want to take a look at an old essay that I wrote: JWs and the Concept of Conscientious Objection that briefly touches on how "conscience" works for vast majority of JWs.
Ontario Hospital Association Attention: Hillary Short, President Dear Ms. Short Re: Blood Therapies for Jehovah’s Witnesses Patients in Ontario
Hospitals and Apparent Misrepresentations We have been concerned over the unknown number
but likely countless deaths of Jehovah Witnesses who refused and continue to refuse life saving blood therapies in your member hospitals since 1945. This past week the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership (known as the Watchtower Bible and
Tract Society of Canada and the Christian Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses) released a letter to all of its Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations in [Canada/ the U.K./ the United States]
regarding its Hospital Liaison Committees (enclosed). The letter suggests that specially appointed
Jehovah’s Witnesses called Hospital Liaison Committee (HLC) members advocate on behalf of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) who may be in need of possible medical attention involving blood therapy. JWs scheduled for serious surgery or who have trauma should contact and use the HLC member when dealing with medical staff. I have recently reviewed a December 2005 article by Ms. Kerry Louderback-Wood
published in The Journal of Church and State
(enclosed). The article details an ever changing Jehovah’s Witnesses blood therapy ban and its apparent misrepresentations of secular medical, scientific and historical facts. I have also reviewed an article by the Associated Jehovah’s Witnesses for Reform of Blood (AJWRB) on a JW publication that addresses the medical use of blood, and, an article by Dr. Osamu (Sam) Muramoto M.D. who recognized that the Jehovah’s Witnesses leadership redefined guidelines for the use of blood products (both enclosed). The articles were featured in an Associated Press story last week that ran in the New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes Magazine et. al. (http://www.forbes.com/business/businesstech/feeds/ap/2006/01/26/ap2479474.html
). -2- DRAFT
The articles detail many misrepresentations of an ever changing blood ban policy. There is a possibly legal action could be taken against the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for misrepresenting secular facts or failing to disclose changes when the leadership or its agents should have known or should ought to have known about the changes. Further, the articles show Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently do not abstain from blood therapies and can accept many blood therapies without the fear of expulsion and shunning of family and friends. This should lead one to asking many questions such as, but not limited to, the following: - Why are the historical and medical publications being apparently misquoted? - Why are the rates of risks on infectious diseases following blood transfusion
being misquoted as high when they are rare? - Why are the rates of death from low blood counts being misquoted as unlikely when the medical information shows the likelihood is death or seri
ous injury? - Why is there a suggestion that Erythopoietin (used to stimulate the production of
red blood cells) will work quickly when it takes many weeks to effect a positive outcome
? - Why are the rates of recovery from complicated surgery without blood therapy suggested to be higher than they actually are? - Why does literature tell JWs to abstain from donor blood but in reality they are allowed to take one hundred percent donor blood in its various
without the fear of ex-communication, shunning and loss of salvation? - Why allow so-called minute fractions of blood when in fact some of the approved fractions such as haemoglobin and albumin make up more of blood by weight than banned platelets? - Why allow albumin on the basis that it transfers between two humans but not allow red blood cell therapies which also have been shown to transfer between two humans? - Why forbid a patient's own stored blood yet permit components derived from large amounts of donated and stored blood (as in the case of fractionated blood products)
? - Why encourage vaccinations and serums that are made from blood fractions and a matter of conscience but not promote and discourage other blood therapies? - Why allow organ transplants, which introduce far more foreign white blood cells than transfusions? -3- DRAFT
- Considering the large concentration of leukocytes [white blood cells] in human milk, why would there be a ban on treatments that use white blood cells, and at the same time advocate breastfeeding
? Why consume milk and other dairy products at all?
- Why forbid plasma, which is mostly water, but allow the components in it that provide therapy? So what's the point of banning plasma? - Why change an apparent abstention from blood
at least some twenty times in the past few decades including the most recent change in 2000 with the allowance of haemoglobin?
Under the Canadian Charter, people can exercise a free conscience and religion as long as the belief is a honest belief and in good faith. As I have read through the documented apparent misrepresentations, policy changes and tort actions, I wonder if the organization’s belief to abstain from blood is a belief that is truly held and what the implications would be to the hospital if medical staff and the patient were relying on the organization’s HLC member for complicated blood therapy choices. Ontarians must make informed choices as to what type of therapy is needed in consultation with their medical professionals. If an organization is teaching a belief that is not truly held and possibly misrepresenting secular facts regarding the belief, then there appears to be a concern that Jehovah’s Witnesses may not make informed choices regarding their health when Hospital Liaison Committee members and other related Jehovah’s Witnesses are present at the hospital. The question becomes can a Jehovah’s Witness truly make an informed choice when their leadership and their agents may be misrepresenting or withholding medical facts from your members and the patients? Based on the apparent misrepresentation and omission concerns of Ms. Louderback-Wood and the AJWRB, is the OHA in a position to recommend to its member hospitals that they should ban identified Jehovah’s Witnesses who are Hospital Liaison Members, who may act as health care advocates over family members or who are part of a Patient Visitation Group when a Jehovah’s Witness patient is in hospital? Some Jehovah’s Witnesses carry signed Durable Power of Attorney Cards that sometimes explain what blood therapies individual Jehovah’s Witnesses are willing to accept. Is the OHA in a position to recommend to its member hospitals not to accept these cards based on the information provided by AJWRB and Ms. Louderback-Wood? -4- DRAFT
Is the OHA in a position to provide the attached documents and the internet site of AJWRB ( http://www.ajwrb.org ) to your hospitals or take other affirmative action to ensure the hospitals’ medical staff has the knowledge necessary to be kept up to date on the Jehovah’s Witnesses ever changing practices over blood therapies so that patients can make informed choices? I look forward to your response in the near future. Yours truly,