Children and Blood Transfusions

by Listener 16 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Listener

    A Hospital in Qld. Australia sought orders to allow a blood transfusion on a minor if necessary. This occurred on the 12th June 2015.

    The child was 7 years old and required a liver transplant within the next two or three years otherwise death was seen as inevitable. With this procedure there is a 95% likelihood that a blood transfusion would be required so the Hospital wanted to ensure that authority was in place beforehand as the JW parents refused to consent. However, they did indicate that they would obey a court order if the hospital was given authorization to administer blood.

    As expected, the Hospital/Doctors were granted this permission.

    It appears to be the general policy of JW parents to accept any court orders and not to intervene in blood transfusions. Yet their no. 1 rule is that when man's laws conflict with God's laws they will uphold God's laws. They therefore are not doing this in the case of their children.

    It's a topic they do not discuss in their publications much these days (children and blood transfusions). There is an article back in 1967 12/1 that does go into some detail. These are the main points

    Christian fathers are obliged to teach this law and enforce it with regard to their minor children, for by God’s law the fathers are the spiritual, religious guardians as well as the domestic parental caretakers of their underage children. The Christian witnesses of Jehovah today recognize that fact and follow the divine rule of conduct. They endeavor to keep their children from violating God’s law to Noah and also the Jerusalem Council’s decree. (Eph. 6:4) Rightly they try to protect their children from taking foreign blood into them.
    Do parents who are Jehovah’s witnesses really have the right to do this? Certain doctors, judges and lawmakers blind themselves to God’s law and to religious liberty and to Christian conscience and say No! These flouters of God’s law that applies to Christians claim that, when Jehovah’s witnesses refuse to let their children have a blood transfusion when a mere human doctor orders them to have it, Jehovah’s witnesses are dangerous parents to have over children and they lose their right to the guardianship of their own flesh-and-blood children. Such children must therefore become the wards of the political State, even in States where there is a separation of Church and State.
    22 Thus it comes about that judges have had children taken from their own Christian parents and placed in the hands of appointed guardians that believe in transfusions. These have had the bodies of these seized children assaulted with a transfusion in shameful disregard of God’s law and conscientious objections of the Christian parents. If a child survives such a forced transfusion, such violators salve their consciences for having “saved a life.”....

    Either rejecting blood transfusions are God's laws or not. In the case of children, however, it is not the case, they will allow it if ordered by the court and therefore choose man's law over God's law (and this is nothing to complain about).

    Their convictions can become seriously weakened when other problems come into play. For instance, being charged and jailed if they were to remove their child from hospital prior to a court ordered blood transfusion being administered. The publicity and backlash from the public would prove too negative for them.

    This does demonstrate that there are circumstances in which they do permit blood transfusions by not actively preventing it from being administered. Their double standards should send out warning signals to any JW that their stance on blood is not genuine.
  • cobweb

    Interesting point. In the Convention video it showed Sergai defying the government by practicing his faith in a country where it was banned. He went to prison for it. The message in that situation is obey the GB in the face of the State no matter what happens.

    But the all out resistance approach is not applied to stopping their children being forced to have blood. It may not be thoroughly effective to try to withdraw their child from hospital but they don't attempt it.

    It is a double standard but its easy to see why it is the case. It would be so damaging to them to do this. It would not just look awful in terms of public perception, but it would stop them getting tax exemption - the government would clamp right down on them in a big way. Plus, I am not sure many JW parents in that situation would go along with it.

    I recently read a book by Ian McEwan called The Children's Act which has an English judge dealing with a case of an underage boy who refuses a blood transfusion. The boy is nearly 18 and the judge has to make a determination as to whether to step in or not. She ends up forcing the child to have a transfusion and he survives but the boy comes to see his parent's true feelings about the blood policy. He saw that as much as his mother and father were outwardly trying to stop him having a transfusion, they were relieved when the issue was taken out of their hands and he was saved. It made him see through the religion.

    I think that is probably quite an accurate representation of how things stand when push comes to shove for many JW parents. They don't want to fight too hard - as long as they make some effort its enough - they are more than likely relieved when the Court takes charge and they can maintain their clean conscience while their child can get to stay alive. And they are relieved that the Org doesn't talk about breaking the law to try to keep it from happening.

  • millie210

    As usual when the Org is trying to figure out a new position on where to stand, they are saying both things.

    For private in sessions like assemblies they say the above.

    Behind closed doors, branch officials met with authorities and came up with a plea deal so to speak on at least the children/blood/religion angle.

    This of course they do NOT mention at assemblies - you have to read it in the papers.

    I know personally of one case (U.S.) where this was quietly set up for the parents by the liaison committee.

    The loophole document is called a "Letter of Understanding"

  • cobweb
    Toronto’s Sick Kids... now will go to “all lengths” to find alternatives to transfusing blood when Jehovah’s Witnesses voice their opposition, said Rebecca Bruni, a bioethicist at the hospital. It also asks parents to sign a letter of understanding — drafted with the help of one of the church’s hospital liaison committees — that says the institution recognizes their religious objections and will try to avoid transfusions if at all possible. The letter is not a consent form, but adds that where the child is at imminent risk of serious harm or death, medical staff will press ahead with the transfusion.

    Its a pragmatic approach.

  • Vidiot
    cobweb - "...It is a double standard but its easy to see why it is the case. It would be so damaging to them to do this. It would not just look awful in terms of public perception, but it would stop them getting tax exemption..."

    I think you nailed it.

    Well done.

  • steve2

    There have been similar news items in New Zealand on this very issue: JW parents of sick children refuse to consent to blood transfusions for the child but readily comply with court orders.

    No one likes to see extremism in religiously-trained parents but at same time, it is almost as if the parents are "relieved" they can escape a troubled JW-org trained conscience by refusing transfusions but "letting" the authorities do their job.

    In media publicity, JW spokesmen have been extremely diplomatic, refraining from any criticism of the Courts or medical personnel. The contrast cannot be greater to the terrifying parental acts of defiance glowingly recounted in JW literature of the 1960s and 1970s in which zealous JW parents "kidnapped" their children from hospitals to spare them blood transfusions to the point that children died.

  • rebel8

    children assaulted with a transfusion

    What I'm about to say is the cult equivalent of, "Why, back in my day, I had to walk 10 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways."

    They definitely considered it assault. Not only did they demand the parents resist and even deceive officials in order to avoid blood, they taught me to do so as well. We used to have resistance drills where I would lie to healthcare professionals about my symptoms, and plan for me to trick them to leave the room so I could pull out the needle and escape to the nearest payphone. I had to memorize the phone number to the KH and others in the cong who might pick me up, if I wasn't able to get in touch with the cult parent.

    We rotated hospitals, just like abusive parents do, to hide the medical neglect.

    If it is truly allowed for the parents to just shrug and say, "Oh well, whatareyagonnado?" and remain in good standing, this is a definite change in policy over the last 30 years.

  • freddo

    Wow Rebel 8. What a situation.

    As I understand it, nowadays HLC's basically "give permission" for parents to comply with court orders for younger children without congregation sanction.

  • cobweb

    rebel8, thats pretty hard core thing for a kid to have to do. It does seem like they have eased up where children are concerned based on this thread.

    What I'm about to say is the cult equivalent of, "Why, back in my day, I had to walk 10 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways."

    There is something to that. The same doctrine is still there but the emphasis can change and lose its force, so the younger generation has little awareness of how it was. Like how although 1914 is still a thing, young jw's don't really get what a big deal it was for those in the 80's say.

    When I was a young kid in the 70's my nan used to go on about how bad aluminium cookware was and I didn't know what the hell she was on about.

  • Vidiot

    Almost qualifies as a "superstition" with regards to old-school JWs.

    These days, with JW minors, it's almost a don't-ask-don't-tell kinda thing in some places.

    I grew up here in Canada in the 80s, and always was scared of needing a transfusion, not because blood itself frightened me, but because I didn't wanna die.

    When I deduced that the state would mandate it to save my life regardless of my parents' wishes, I was privately relieved.

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