Just wanted to post a refresher course for some who may like to know about this story :
Irreconcilable beliefs shattered family
Parents’ clash over transfusions led to divorce
Calgary Herald, Page E4
Sunday, November 16, 2003
A bitter clash between religious beliefs and medical treatment led to the ultimate breakup and bankruptcy of a Calgary family, a judge has concluded in the parents’ divorce action.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Rosemary Nation said in her 29-page decision the catalyst for the breakup between Lawrence and Arliss Hughes and their two daughters was differing opinions on whether their oldest daughter, Bethany, should receive blood transfusions,
All members of the family had been Jehovah’s Witnesses for nearly 20 years and were opposed to receiving blood products when Bethany was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in February 2002.
Bethany, then 16, was made a ward of the province and given chemotherapy and more than three dozen blood transfusions against her will.
She died at age 17 in September 2002 — about seven months later.
Lawrence Hughes changed his position after discussions with doctors and fought to have his daughter receive what he believed was the best medical care.
“There is no question that Bethany’s illness led Mr. Hughes to seriously question and ultimately reject the teaching of his and his family’s religion, and that he paid a high price for that moral and religious decision, including the shunning by the Jehovah Witness congregation and alienation from his wife and children,” Nation wrote in her 29-page decision.
Calgary lawyer Vaughn Marshall, who assisted Lawrence Hughes in the proceedings, said the case is important because it makes it clear the real cause of the family breakup was the opposing religious positions taken by the parents in a life-and-death decision regarding their daughter.
“You’d think their religious beliefs would provide comfort to a husband and wife whose child was stricken with a life-threatening illness and guide the family through the crisis,” said Marshall.
“But, in this case, it not only failed to do that, it destroyed the family. First, Lawrence Hughes lost his daughter, then he lost his family.”
However, Shane Brady, lawyer for Bethany Hughes in the child welfare matter and Arliss Hughes in the divorce proceedings, said the judgment recognizes it was Bethany who made the decision about blood transfusions. ‘Arliss was concerned about (the child welfare judge’s comments) about Arliss’s parenting abilities and that she may have influenced Bethany,” said Brady. “Justice Nation was the only one who heard live evidence from anyone and she repeated a number of times that it was Bethany who made the decision and that Arliss was simply supporting Bethany in her decision”.
“Arliss is pleased that has been clarified and cleaned up” he said.
Brady also said Nation did recognize in a couple of passages it was the maturity of Bethany that was really the factor in the medical treatment decisions.
“Her view all the way along and the evidence led in court was that the family had problems even before Bethany got sick, and this is just one tragic, tragic result of the family’s circum stances,” said Brady.
Lawrence Hughes testified during the trial he incurred more than $200,000 in legal fees and paid $20,000 of it out of his own pocket, pushing him into bankruptcy.
Brady represented Bethany in her court battle, which included applying for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada about the rights of a 16-year-old to determine her own treatment.
“I do recognize that the religious views of the Jehovah Witness faith, as they were presented in court by the father and not contradicted in court by the mother, would lead members of the faith (which would include Mrs. Hughes and two daughters) to disagree with the position of Mr. Hughes in relation to blood transfusions and reject him because of those views,” wrote Nation.
She added, however, she did not believe either parent defending their religious belief as it relates to a matter as fundamental as the medical treatment of their child, could be considered misconduct under the Divorce Act.
© Copyright 2003 Calgary Herald
Bethany's battle rages a year after her death -Parents fight for custody of little sister Bethany made headlines in Canada after refusing to undergo blood transfusions and died of acute myeloid leukemia. Bethany's father claims the Watchtower Society and his wife played a major role in her death. He is now fighting for sole custody of his youngest daughter who lives with her mother and is also a Jehovah's Witness. (added 07/26/2003)
Judge orders teen continue transfusions Lawyers for a 16-year-old girl, and her mother requested a stay preventing doctors from administering transfusions against her will. But the judge ordered a transfusion. The girl's father is also a Jehovah's Witness, but after reviewing Scriptures now believes there's nothing wrong with blood transfusions and favours the treatments to keep his daughter alive (added 02/22/2002).
Father shunned by family for defying faith to save child
The father of this girl is shunned by the Jehovah's Witnesses he once embraced since defying his faith by agreeing to blood transfusions for his 16-year-old leukemia-stricken daughter.
Teen's transfusions must continue: Court
The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that a young Jehovah's Witness from Calgary will have to continue getting blood transfusions. The 16-year-old girl, who suffers from leukemia, is not mature enough to make a decision that's crucial to her treatment, the high court said in upholding earlier rulings by lower courts.
Dying teen leaves Canada for treatment
The father of a teenaged leukemia patient who fought against blood transfusions for religious reasons is upset that his wife has taken their daughter out of the country to a secret location where she'll begin alternative treatments.
Jehovah's Witness teen happy to be 17 years old A Canadian girl is undergoing alternative chemotherapy treatment at an undisclosed location in North America. She made headlines earlier this year when she refused to receive blood transfusions. Her battle has torn her family apart. Her parents are now embroiled in divorce proceedings, split over Mia's refusal to undergo blood transfusions. (added 08/21/2002)
Dad of Alberta girl who fought transfusions lashes out at Jehovah's Witnesses The grieving father of a 17-year-old Jehovah's Witness girl who died of leukemia says he intends to sue the religious group, claiming it destroyed his family and caused his daughter to fight against blood transfusions. (updated 09/07/2002)