Good News from Calgary
Apr. 10, 07:39 EDT
Teen must receive transfusions, judge rules
Jehovah's Witness wants to end life-saving cancer treatment
CALGARY (CP) - A leukemia-stricken teen is upset that a second court is forcing her to continue blood transfusions even though it's against her firm beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness, her lawyer said today.
"She'll have to think what her next options are," lawyer David Gnam told reporters outside court, adding that another appeal will be considered.
The girl lost her first appeal Wednesday when Justice Adele Kent of Court of Queen's Bench ruled that the state-imposed blood transfusions are essential treatment for the 16-year-old girl in her two-month battle against leukemia.
"Balancing all the factors, it is in (the girl's) best interest to have medical treatment proposed by the hospital," said Kent, who denied the girl's appeal of a lower-court ruling forcing the blood transfusions.
In mid-February, provincial court Judge Karen Jordan gave the Alberta government temporary custody of the girl and and ordered her to undergo blood transfusions as part of her treatment.
The girl, who cannot be named because she is a temporary ward of the province, is a Jehovah's Witness. Believers say the Bible prohibits accepting any blood products and those who agree to transfusions won't go to paradise after they die.
The girl has been forced - sometimes by being restrained and sedated - to have 14 transfusions and is scheduled for 16 more. After the transfusions combined with intense chemotherapy, her leukemia is now in remission.
The girl's father has consented to the blood transfusions, while his wife and two daughters support the teen's wishes.
"It's been tearing myself and my family apart," the 51-year-old man said outside court.
"But there's only one happy ending and that's if my daughter survives."
Even though Kent deemed the girl to be a mature minor, the judge also pointed out that the teen has not looked "death in the face," because she's been told by fellow Witnesses that the blood transfusions are not essential to save her life.
"Because of incorrect information and the behaviour of some around her she now believes that she will not die if she does not have transfusions," she said.
Her doctors at Alberta Children's Hospital say she has a 40-50 per cent chance of survival with the treatment but will die if she doesn't get blood products. They point out it's the best available treatment - standard North American protocol for acute myeloid leukemia.
In an affidavit, the girl's mother said her daughter's forced treatment bears a "chilling" resemblance to the way Nazis mistreated Jews.
Kent discarded that argument.
"If (the girl's mother) truly believes what she says, then it is a very strong indication that she has no perspective on her child's current medical situation," the judge said. "She cannot make decisions for her."
The judge said she found it "troubling" that the mother tampered with the IV line that carried blood to her daughter.
The girl said she wants to go to California, where she can get "peaceful" alternative treatment that doesn't include blood products. But the judge pointed out the same treatment is available in Alberta.
Child welfare legislation in most other provinces covers children under 16 years of age, but in Alberta it's 18. Some provinces such as Ontario allow some teenagers to choose their own medical treatment, as long as they are deemed mature minors who comprehend the treatment and its consequences.
The Alberta government maintains that the mandate of its director of child welfare is to protect children under 18 when parents are unwilling or unable to do so.
The judge agreed, saying the Alberta Child Welfare Act supersedes the common law of a mature minor because children sometimes need to have their lives protected.
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Thanks Kismet. I agree that people should be permitted to refuse a transfusion, as long as they have all the facts, and are legally adults. The fact that the Dad stepped in and made the decision, I am pleased the court supported him. I hope that his daughter will appreciate this as she gets older.
Following Bible principles, we will avoid trying to live - or demand others to live - by an extensive and rigid set of dos and don'ts that go beyond the teachings of the Bible. The Watchtower, 4-15-02, pg 22, pp 15
Isn't this WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!
What a great moment and a long-awaited precedent setting victory!!!!!
Yet another chunk of clay chipped out of the Watchtower God's feet!!!
I am SO PLEASED!!!!!!! (does it show?)
Another round of hugs to everyone here!
Now the father should sue the ass off the Society for interfering with his parental prerogatives, and anything else a smart lawyer can think of.
“After the transfusions combined with intense chemotherapy, her leukemia is now in remission.”
This is Great News!!! I am very happy for her and her family that she is doing better and should continue to improve because of the latest decision.
A JW forum that I subscribe to recently had a post with the heading "Present day torture of a witness in Canada". The following thread has the disgusting quote.
This along with other recent posts sickened me enough to send the moderators the following:
Several issues about this forum have concerned me greatly within the past couple of weeks. First of all I am not a Witness, I did study and attend meetings at one time. I am currently inactive, but I do enjoy this forum for the insight into the lives of Witnesses.My intention was for him to post this on the forum. Predictably it didn’t happen. His response in an e-mail to me, basically stated that I was arrogant and I should not make a judgment without all of the facts.
The first issue that greatly concerns me, is the idea that this forum had been highly censored in the past, at least since I've been a member. This became obvious with the change in moderators. Recently the amount of messages have increased significantly. This seems to indicate that many posts in the past never made it to this forum. This along with the previous moderators insistence that the current moderators should not "post too many mail in a single day or week", also indicates that this forum had been greatly censored. The recent issue about not wearing shoes at the book study, obviously would not have received so many posts with the previous moderator. Even though some may have not appreciated the attention the shoe issue had received, it was typical of a much more honest and open forum.
The more open format of the new moderators, although refreshing, now seems to have revealed some insights into the lives of Witnesses that most people would find appalling. The idea that Witnesses would search the obituaries for potential converts is unacceptable according to most worldly people.
>"I have known of sisters and brothers that went through the newspaper looking for
>obituaries (death announcements) and researched the family members then wrote them a
>brief letter included the brochure "When Someone You Love Dies". In doing this some
>have started bible studies."
The lack of response from all on this forum concerning this practice seems to indicate that this is acceptable.
The last issue that concerns me is the post about the "Present day torture of a witness in Canada". The vilification of the father and anyone associated with him is uncalled for. This is a very difficult situation for all including the father. Even though all baptized Witnesses have made the decision not to accept blood, the majority have not been tested with the reality of losing a child. Any doubt about ones religion will definitely be put to the test in a situation like this. The idea that his daughter's life could be saved with blood transfusions probably seemed more real to the father than his faith that Jehovah would resurrect her into the New System. The post about the girl in Canada truly shows the attitude of Witnesses concerning those that do not agree with the blood policy. Again the complete silence regarding vilification of the girl’s father shows that everyone on this forum is willing to accept what is surely gossip and half-truths. It seems that vilifying the father makes it easier to believe that the average faithful Witness would never consider sacrificing his standing with Jehovah for the love of his child.
Thanks for the link, I just sent his forum some facts.
edited for formating
I find your letter to the moderator very odd, psuedoxristos.
The father rethought his beliefs about blood transfusion. There is
no indication that his faith in Jehovah wavered.
The intelligent point to make is that one does not have to
accept JW dogma on blood to have faith in God. NOT that a life or
death scenario is likely to make one waver in faith. Belief yes, faith, no. And that is a good thing.
I think it is a safe assumption to make, in fact, that believers
almost always draw closer to their God in extremely trying situations.
You are absolutely correct. I do agree with you on that point.
From the moderator's and other members point of view, they accepted the gossip that he was insane(I think this translates to apostate or loss of faith). I wrote the response trying not to expose them to much reallity. I did not want to get kicked off the forum.
edited for spelling, I rilly need too use a spill cheker.
phew ... some good news - what a relief!
Well, thank goodness we have have a sensible judicial system that (at least occasionally) steps in to protect JW's from their leaders.
I doubt if this will be pushed to a further court. Although the Society likes to grandstand in court, they don't like to lose, and I think they could very well lose this one in the Supreme Court, setting a massive precedent. As well, by the time another appeal is carried out, the treatments will be over.
Now, my only hope is that the girl pulls through. If anthing goes wrong now, the JW's will really go to town on this.