Jehovah’s Witness boy refusing blood transfusion

Is he old enough to decide is probably not the right question. He has not been exposed to important realities in the world.

Religious boy fights court for right to die.

The Jehovah’s Witness who was ordered to have a life-saving blood transfusion for cancer, despite threatening to rip the IV needle from his arm, is appealing against the court claiming he is mature enough to dictate his own fate.

Supreme Court Justice Ian Gzell overrode the wishes of the boy, known as X, and his parents when he ruled in April that he must undergo treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

”The sanctity of life in the end is a more powerful reason for me to make the orders than is respect for the dignity of the individual,” Justice Gzell said. ”X is still a child, although a mature child of high intelligence.”

Intelligence does not mean you make sense. So, are we considering the “you decide” argument again? Remember, for the You Decide argument to be valid, you must have the best available information. This person does not, as it is noted:

[…] the Children’s Hospital said the boy had a ”cocooned upbringing” and his family had ”little exposure to challenges of their beliefs from outsiders” so what they may have thought was best was not necessarily correct.

On a whiteboard in his hospital room, X’s father wrote a scripture reference to abstaining from blood.

You can only do so much against deliberate ignorance.

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  14 comments for “Jehovah’s Witness boy refusing blood transfusion

  1. September 18, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    If the family doesn’t want medical treatment for the kid why did they hospitalise him?

  2. John Doe
    September 18, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Out of interest, what does the Bible reference say?

  3. Chris Howard
    September 18, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    I see sh*# like this and all the springs to mind is “The stupid, it burns!”

  4. September 18, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    I thought the JWs had changed that rule, if the illness is severe enough a transfusion was OK. Don’t know where I might have read that.

  5. September 18, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    I don’t know… I would agree if he were genuinely a child, but at nearly 18, isn’t this akin to government restricting a woman’s right to an abortion due to its belief in the “sanctity of life”? I think the question of his maturity and therefore right to control of his body IS central here.

  6. One Eyed Jack
    September 18, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I think the key here is not so much his age, but his sheltered upbringing. For lack of any better word, he has been brainwashed.

    Regardless of any age, would we allow someone to make decisions that are harmful if there is reasonable evidence that their decision making ability has been hampered in some way? Do we defend the right of cultists to engage in mass suicide? Is this that much different?

  7. ZombyWoof
    September 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Looks like death is his choice.

  8. September 18, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    There is no right or wrong in this case. However the laws of civilized states have evolved to protect the vulnerable. Although 18 may not be correct for every teenager, it seems a sensible one to provide a line under which young individual’s wishes can be over overruled by a court.

  9. September 18, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    “Do we defend the right of cultists to engage in mass suicide? Is this that much different?”

    Why “mass suicide” as a comparison instead of the more appropriate individual suicide? Because I DO support that right of an individual.

    I agree he’s tragically misinformed, and the JWs are cultish, but that seems too slippery a slope to judge among adults, if we are to think of him as such.

    All that aside, this teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is reprehensible. I wonder if this young man’s suicide — for that is what it is — will change any minds among their ranks.

  10. September 18, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    “There is no right or wrong in this case. However the laws of civilized states have evolved to protect the vulnerable. Although 18 may not be correct for every teenager, it seems a sensible one to provide a line under which young individual’s wishes can be over overruled by a court.”

    I agree, except that this is infrequent enough that courts should be able to take the time to examine an individual’s maturity more closely rather than apply the arbitrary line.

  11. September 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    “Out of interest, what does the Bible reference say?”

    It is almost certainly from the Old Testament. From what I can recall, most if not all of the scriptures on the issue of blood related to food or menstruation. Transfusions certainly didn’t exist then.

    All other arguments aside, this teen did not make a free choice. His decision was not fully and freely informed. It doesn’t matter what you call it — brainwashing, thought control/reform, indoctrination — his ability to think critically on any subject was stunted by the dogma he was inculcated with since childhood. His ability to make reasonable decisions was destroyed by that dogma.

  12. September 18, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Bonnie, I haven’t heard that the JWs have ended their ban on blood transfusions, but there appears to be some softening of their position. See:

    http://life.nationalpost.com/2012/12/20/without-fanfare-jehovahs-witnesses-quietly-soften-position-on-blood-transfusions/

    One of the problems, as in most religious organizations, is that an inner circle of leaders make and enforce the rules. When regular members break or bend those rules they face varying degrees of consequences depending on the group. Many Catholics, for example, get away with breaking Church dogma without suffering much social consequence (it depends on the country), but members of a group like the JWs that practices social shunning of dissenters and rule breakers have a much greater incentive for keeping the rules, even unto death. It is a form of coercion and I think that is partly what is driving this teen to make a decision against his own interests.

  13. Warren
    September 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    The passage was likely acts 15:20 In context it is part of an admonition to avoid pagan worship ceremonies, but literal interpretation out of context is a popular pastime for the last few mellenia.

  14. September 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    Thanks Perry. That is probably what I read about.

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