Judge ends parental guardianship of Jehovah’s Witness’ wife

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Clinton woman whose Jehovah’s Witness husband would not allow her a blood transfusion while she lay comatose is now able to make her own medical decisions, a judge ruled.

Tawnya Nissen, 29, had been under the temporary guardianship of her father since last month amid protests from the husband who claimed the couple’s religion forbids blood sharing.

A judge ended parental guardianship after a clinical evaluation performed Thursday showed Nissen is no longer impaired.

The woman had been in a coma since early August after suffering a reaction to diet pills.

At the time, doctors said she may require a blood transfusion if her condition worsened or if she needed a surgical airway. Her husband Chris Nissen refused, and a Johnson County judge granted temporary guardianship to her father “in order to protect life.” The judge concluded it was impossible to determine whether the woman would accept a transfusion to save her life.


“[T]he 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.”
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Tawnya Nissen regained consciousness last month and Chris Nissen sought to have his father-in-law’s guardianship terminated then. However, Tawnya Nissen was not deemed mentally competent by a medical professional until Thursday, court records show.

Johnson County District Court Judge David Baker ended the parental guardianship and canceled a court hearing on the matter scheduled for Monday.

“(Nissen) no longer requires a substitute decision maker to act on her behalf,” according to documents filed by Nissen’s lawyer, Noelle Murray of Coralville. “Ms. Nissen very clearly states that she wishes to be responsible for making her own decisions regarding health care.”

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AP, via WCFCourier.com, USA
Sep. 10, 2006

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