I wrote the following in relation to the mother in Quebec who died for refusing a blood transfusion. Enjoy. :)
I personally grew up within the Jehovah's witnesses and was a member in good standing until 2013 (aged 35), date at which I became inactive. To help you grasp the situation in which Eloise actually was, let’s pretend, for a moment, that she would have preferred to receive a blood transfusion...
Eloise, on her hospital bed, has lost a significant amount of blood. The doctors inform her that she is the proud mother of a healthy baby, but that she should quickly take a blood transfusion to survive. Wishing to live and raise her child, she's willing to accept this transfusion. Only, she is invaded by a sense of terrible fear:
"What if my family, friends and perhaps even the elders, who are outside my room come to know that I got a transfusion? Heck, a member of the hospital staff could tell them my mistake! And if they see blood bags in and out of my room? "
"My family and perhaps the elders expect me to ask for their help so that they can support me in my refusal to take blood. If I don't do it, they’ll assume that I did take blood; they’ll try to find out and even later, after my discharge from the hospital, they’ll question me, trying to break me and if I hold up, they’ll still be suspicious for years! "
"Will I really be able to hold on? Lie to my husband, mother, father, and all of my friends? And if it comes out! The horror! I'll have to deal with a Judicial composed of 3 Elders! They’ll question me for two or three hours, behind closed doors, unsupported (well except, perhaps, for my husband). And if they judge that I am not repentant, I'll be disfellowshiped! I’ll become the shame of my family. My father will lose the privilege of being a respectable Elder... it's all his life. My mother, my father, my family, witnesses and all my friends will stop talking to me. They won't even answer if I call them on the phone. On the street, they’ll change sidewalk to avoid me! There’s going to be lots of sadness, and I'll be the first cause of it."
"And my husband, what will he think of this? Many are those who’ve seen their marriage broken because of their spouse leaving the truth. Is that what I really want? To raise my child in a divided family? And even if my couple survives, my husband will be ashamed of me and he won’t get proper respect from the congregation for many years. For sure he won’t be able to reach out for many years!"
"Oh, and the blood card that I signed!! In article 6, I gave the rights to the HLC (Hospital Liaison Committee) to access my medical record! So, if I take blood, they’ll see it on my medical record. And if I take that privilege away from them now, they'll know that I'm taking blood! "
While she thinks about all this, she asks the doctor for a few moments with her family. Thus, the family comes in, and starts chatting with her … in the company of the HLC. This Committee is composed of elders, experts on the issues of legal and medical law for situations involving Jehovah's Witnesses. It is they who have the right of access to her medical record. And it's also them who will work with the JC in the event that it accepts a blood transfusion. These men inform Eloise that there is an alternative treatment that will bring her back to health. And according to a relative of Eloise, who shared information on Facebook, this treatment is presented not only as alternative, but in fact superior to blood transfusion, which is more risky. In fact, she said, hospitals suggest blood transfusion due to the fact that this treatment is far less expensive than the alternative.
And there you have Eloise: surrounded by people who threaten her with shunning, who have a grip on his medical record, and who misinform her on the medical treatment she is about to receive.
The question that arises: Threatening with shunning and public shame a member of the religion for such a decision, and taking action that interferes in people's personal affairs… Is that not, in itself, a form of abuse and abusive coercion of the Jehovah's witnesses?