A dying Jehovah’s Witness has been granted the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment on the grounds of his religious beliefs.
The man, aged in his 70s and known only as “Mr A”, was unconscious when admitted to the emergency unit of a hospital run by the Hunter and New England Area Health Service on July 1. He was suffering from septic shock and respiratory failure.
Despite receiving treatment, he developed renal failure and by July 14 was being kept alive by mechanical ventilation and kidney dialysis.
On that day a document prepared on August 19, 2008, and signed by Mr A surfaced in which he indicated he would refuse dialysis.
The hospital took the matter to the NSW Supreme Court to ensure the man’s refusal of medical treatment was legal.
Justice Robert McDougall today found Mr A’s directives should be followed “even if the likely consequence of giving effect to Mr A’s wishes … is that he will die”.
In the documents, Mr A stated: “As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses I direct my guardian to refuse consent for a transfusion of whole blood, red cells, white cells, platelets, or blood plasma to be given to me under any circumstances even if heath-care providers believe that such are necessary to preserve my life.”
Justice McDougall found that Mr A was competent when he signed the directive, drawn up by a solicitor who had drafted many such documents for other Jehovah’s Witness clients.
The solicitor, Mr N, admitted he did not explain the risk of refusing dialysis to Mr A, because “it was unclear whether, according to the beliefs held by Jehovah’s Witnesses, there was any biblical proscription of this form of treatment.”
However, in addition to the directive, Mr A’s guardians produced two Jehovah’s Witness “worksheets” indicating his attitude to various forms of medical treatment, written by him in August last year, but unsigned.
On Mr A’s second worksheet, under an explanation of dialysis, he stated that he would refuse the treatment.
While the Watchtower Society (the organization behind Jehovah’s Witnesses) claims to represent God, its leaders can not make up their minds about what He says.
The religious organization has come up with own version of the Bible (necessary to support the organization’s unbiblical teachings), constantly go back and forth on a wide variety of issues, and keep getting their prophecies about the end of the world wrong. See these quotes — from their own publications — for documentation.
Here is the Watchtower’s history on the issue of blood. It’s stance on the issue — rejected by all Christian denominations — amounts to quackery.
The organization’s unbiblical doctrines and practices make it, theologically, a cult of Christianity.
Sociologically, its high level of control — and the often fatal results of its doctrines — the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization is considered a cult as well. (Note the differences between sociological vs. theological definitions of the term ‘cult.’)