A hospital has won the right to give a child potentially life-saving blood transfusions despite the religious objections of the boy and his family.
In a South Australian legal first, the Supreme Court this afternoon gave the Women’s and Children’s Hospital the right to give a 10-year-old boy – a member of the Jehovah’s Witness faith – transfusions as part of his cancer treatment.
The decision, in line with similar rulings from around the world, paves the way for hospitals to take action in future debates with religious parents.
The boy is suffering from an aggressive form of cancer that doctors fear will spread throughout his entire body if not treated with an intense 39-week regime of chemotherapy and surgery.
The speed of that process will not allow his blood cells time to regenerate, meaning he will require transfusions so that the chemotherapy can continue unabated.
In a statement read to the court, the boy said transfusions carried spiritual consequences.
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“The doctors have told me I might die and I don’t want to – but I don’t want blood,” he said.
“The blood will change me… when you take blood, you are taking someone else’s life.
In the Jehovah’s Witness faith, transfusions are not permitted because of a Bible verse that says one must “abandon from blood” to “keep well”.
The hospital asked the court invoke its power of parens patriae – to look after those incapable of doing so – and over-rule the family’s objections.
The boy’s father said the application felt like “an unwanted attack” on his family’s beliefs.
“I love my son, I love him more than I love myself,” he said.
“If the court orders a transfusion, I will love him the same as before, and I will follow the law.
“But my son will suffer emotional and spiritual consequences for the rest of his life… he will always, in his own head, be unhappy.”
In his statement, the boy said he feared a transfusion would “make the Creator unhappy”.
• Research resources on Jehovah’s Witnesses
In spite of its many failed prophecies, the Jehovah’s Witness organization teaches that it is the only true religion, and that only its members are true Christians. It claims that no one can learn spiritual truth apart from them. It also teaches that there is salvation only in joining their organization and everyone but Jehovah’s Witnesses will be destroyed at Armageddon.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization demands that its members obey and accept, unquestioningly, every command and biblical interpretation given by the organization.
For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization prohibits the use of blood transfusions. Individual Jehovah’s Witnesses are expected to die or let their children die, rather than break this command, even though the Scriptures nowhere teach that blood transfusions are wrong. Any Jehovah’s Witness that disobeys this rule is told he will be destroyed at the coming of Armageddon — the time of final judgment.
In this way the leaders use fear and intimidation to keep members obedient to the organization. The leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses have also used their predictions of the end of the world to put fear into the hearts of their followers.
Is it not dangerous to follow an organization that uses its authority abusively?
– Source: Four Dangers of the Jehovah’s Witnesses