A pair of Jehovah Witness parents lost their case in preventing their infant son from receiving a blood transfusion. The parents objected on religious terms, however the judge said the life of the child overrode the parent’s religious beliefs.
For Jehovah Witnesses, some medical procedures are considered a sin. This includes blood transfusions. Their belief is based on Biblical passages forbidding the ingestion of blood, which they feel also applies to receiving blood from donors. A pair of Jehovah Witnesses used this belief to stand in the way of their infant son receiving a life-saving blood transfusion.
The baby boy was born August 2010, one of a set of twins. His twin sister died shortly after birth. The boy seemed healthy until December 25, when he appeared unwell due to acute bronchiolitis. He continued getting worse, at one point stopping breathing from the infection. His parents took him to the hospital to get help. However, as the boy’s blood oxygen levels continued to drop it became obvious that he would need a transfusion in order to survive.
That is when the parents said no.
The case was rushed before a judge in hopes of overriding the parent’s religious wishes in order to save the life of the child. In his home, at 1 AM, Justice Gerard Hogan ordered the blood transfusion to be made. According to Hogan, the life of the child trumps the religious rights of the parents. It was the court’s duty to uphold that life, even if it meant going over the parents.
The State has a vital interest in ensuring that children are protected and that interest can prevail even in the face of express and fundamental constitutional rights, he said.
There was absolutely no doubt the court can intervene in a case where the child’s life, general welfare and other vital interests are at stake, he said.
Despite this, Hogan described the parents as “wholesome and upright”, stating that he believed they were honestly concerned for the life of their child. – Summer, staff writer
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