Blood is Not an Evil

Emma Gough gave birth to twins last week. She lost a lot of blood in the process. A blood transfusion would have saved her life. But she said no.

Because she’s a Jehovah’s Witness.

Then she died.

Her husband Anthony, also a Witness, refused the hospital staff’s requests to allow them to give the transfusion. Emma’s relatives denied the requests, too.

EmmaandAnthony

(The picture, courtesy of the Daily Mail, features Emma and Anthony Gough on their wedding day.)

Their best man, Peter Welch, 24, said Mrs Gough’s death had devastated both sides of the family, all Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Mr Welch, of Sutton Hill, Telford, said: “We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.

It’s hard for me to feel sorry for the family. They had the life-saving procedure at their fingertips and said no because of some absurd belief brought on by their religion.

At least one person in the family’s life has a working mind:

… an elderly neighbour criticised the family for sticking to their beliefs.

She said: “How could she make that decision not to have a transfusion and leave those babies without a mother? It’s terrible, I don’t care what your beliefs are, to refuse treatment like that is awful.”

How do you explain the mother’s decision to these children when they grow up?

In medical school, we often discussed scenarios that would pop up when we were doctors and how we would respond to them. In addition, we were taught to respect peoples’ cultures.

When the Jehovah’s Witness scenario came up, the first thought that went through my mind was that their beliefs (at least in regards to the transfusion issue) don’t deserve to be respected. It’s irrational. It’s harmful.

The same thing happened when I read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. There’s no need to respect beliefs that are flat-out wrong when a person’s life is at stake.

The doctors should have the ability to intervene in times like these.

(via Slog)


[tags]atheist, atheism, religion, faith[/tags]

  • grazatt

    for those of us who don’t know what happened in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

  • http://thisislikesogay.blogspot.com Duncan

    “There’s no need to respect beliefs that are flat-out wrong when a person’s life is at stake. … The doctors should have the ability to intervene in times like these.”

    I disagree. Doctors have had too much power as it is, and prolonging life is not the only overriding concern. I agree that it’s irrational to refuse a blood transfusion (though what if she’d gotten one, and died anyway?), but people have the right to be irrational and make irrational choices. Since not only her family but the woman herself agreed on the refusal, the doctors were right to butt out.

    But I agree that not all beliefs deserve respect; among those that don’t is the belief that doctors should have the kind of power you want them to have.

  • Maria

    Their best man, Peter Welch, 24, said Mrs Gough’s death had devastated both sides of the family, all Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Mr Welch, of Sutton Hill, Telford, said: “We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.

    yes, the technology was there, and they refused to use it, so the inevitable happened.

  • Kate

    Not to be morbid…but it could’ve been worse. Yes, allowing yourself to die and leave your kids without a mother is terrible. But, she could’ve been the one refusing a blood transfusion for her kid.

    Maybe…maybe the kids will grow up and realize the absurdity of this. And start to rethink the family belief system. Maybe become spokespeople? Perhaps there is a reason for this.

  • Bartlett

    Utter rubbish Duncan. Only in the case of a terminally ill, no-chance-of-recovery braindead vegetable should prolonging life not be the overriding concern. Unless I’m mistaken, isn’t the entire discipline of medical science dedicated to prolonging life? In the case of a young mother who has just given birth to twins, in no way should doctors be forced to step aside. They should be allowed to just ignore her irrational protests and do it while she isn’t looking. Label the bag cranberry juice, whatever. Her life IS the overriding concern. Of course this is all assuming she was even capable of making a rational decision in the first place, bleeding to death after giving birth to twins and all.

  • http://perceivingwholes.blogspot.com Jane Shevtsov

    I think the doctor should have gone ahead with the transfusion after the woman refused blood. The refusal should be enough to satisfy religious requirements. After all, how can it be a sin to have something done to you against your will?

    Duncan, I agree that prolonging life isn’t always the dominant concern, but we’re not talking about an elderly cancer patient here. She was a young, apparently healthy woman who had just given birth! Also, we have a lot of concern for the patient’s beliefs, as we well should, but what about the doctor’s beliefs? Can’t a doctor say, “I’m sorry, it’s against my principles/religion to let people die for no good reason”?

  • Mriana

    It’s a shame that the babies are without a mother now. They could have had a mother if it wasn’t for dangerous dogmatism. :( It was a senseless death.

  • Maria

    I hate to say it, but I don’t think she should have been forced into it (getting blood). It’s her choice. It’s a stupid choice, but it’s still her body and her choice. What we can do is educate people so hopefully they won’t make such bad choices.

  • Jack

    It’s absolutely terrible that this happened. Her beliefs are irrational and that the children are motherless is heartbreaking.

    However, Hermant, I disagree with your second point. If you don’t have the right to control what someone puts in your body, what rights do you have?

  • Siamang

    I take the point of view that if she wasn’t endangering anyone else’s life or safety, she could check out and go to heaven if she wanted.

    I’m surprised more believers in heaven don’t take the fast lane there.

    A agree with Jack’s point about the freedom to do whatever the heck you want.. if you want to die for your silly superstition, be my guest.

    A close friend of mine died a year and a half ago. Her very young girl will not grow up to remember her. Every tool of modern medical science was employed to try and save her. I feel a little bit bitter that these folks throw away a chance at life that my friend didn’t have.

    What a waste that such a simple lifegiving tool was denied, and a life wasted on a joke of a hoax.

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    Mr Welch, of Sutton Hill, Telford, said: “We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.

    You can lead a horse to technology, but you can’t make him use it.

    Maybe this will be a lesson her kids will take to heart one day and decide to shun the silly superstitions of their parents.

  • James

    As a former Jehovah’s Witness, sadly she will be used as an example of faithfulness in an article of the Watchtower magazine. The Watchtower is the main publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the whole organisation wraps there collective mind around that publication. According to JWs, to stray from the watchtower is to stray from Jehovah. What a sad story!

  • Aj

    Hemant,

    The doctors should have the ability to intervene in times like these.

    I disagree. I think people should have the freedom to refuse treatment for even irrational beliefs. Freedom over oneself is really important. It’s a bit strange that these beliefs should be respected in societies that make suicide illegal, and don’t allow any euthanasia. Darn inconsistant if you ask me.

  • http://imparo.wordpress.com/ Darmok

    I agree that this is horrible, and it’s tragic that these children will grow up motherless, and for such silly reasons, too.

    But as a physician, I take some exception to the suggestion that doctors should be able to intervene. For better or for worse, an overriding principle in Western medical ethics and philosophy is autonomy—the patient has the ultimate decision-making power, and that includes the power to refuse life-saving treatment, for whatever reason (assuming he is a competent decision-maker). Furthermore, overriding a patient’s will is fraught with difficulty, and degrades the openness of the doctor-patient relationship. If she fears being forced to receive transfusions against her will, will she lie about the reason she’s refusing? Say she is worried about the transmission of infection? Will she avoid coming to the hospital for childbirth knowing she might receive treatments against her will?

    Yes, I think she made a stupid, irrational choice. But it’s her choice to make. I wouldn’t agree with her forbidding transfusions in her children, but she should be free to decline medical treatments for herself.

  • Tolga K.

    Call me an idiot, but in that situation I would have done the transfusion anyway and dealt with the lawsuit later. Religion means nothing to me, especially when it interferes with the life of people, so I would have kicked the family out and done what is right.

    As for her kids, it would be better for them (in terms of belief) if she had made it through. Imagine how you’d feel if you were a kid and you heard that your mother wanted to abandon you in the name of her beliefs? Being alive to talk about it, the kids would most likely give her hell about it when they knew she’d rather die than to raise her kids. It would only make their BS detection systems more vigilant.

  • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/fole0091/epistaxis/ Epistaxis

    People should be allowed to kill themselves for whatever weird reason they want. If they’re causing harm to others, though (like if her babies had been the ones who needed blood), that’s a very different story.

  • Mriana

    Freethought Radio- Superstition. What’s the harm?

    What’s the harm? She may not have been endangering anyone’s life but her own, even so, the harm is that two babies have no mother now. That is the harm that was does due to superstition. It’s just not the same when children don’t have both parents in their lives.

  • Pingback: Black Sun Journal » Archives » Jehovah’s Witness Family Assists In Woman’s Suicide

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    I’m hearing a lot of people say that she has the right to withhold treatment for herself and I tend to agree. And I’m guessing that most good Christians out there would also agree that religious freedom protects her decision. But at the same time, I live in a state where doctor-assisted suicide is legal and I’m guessing that most of these same religious people who support this woman do not support doctor-assisted suicide, but they are practically the same thing.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe most religious people would have wanted the doctors to do a blood transfusion anyway? But I doubt it. So how can they justify suicide in this case but be against suicide for a terminally ill patient who wants to go out on their own terms? Or do JWs support doctor-assisted suicide?

  • cautious

    I’m all for personal freedom and the right to religious expression, but, I also think that the greater good is sometimes served by crushing personal, selfish concerns. “The need of the many outweighing the needs of the one” and such.

    Socially, what’s more important, that a mother stay alive to help raise her children, or that a woman’s religious viewpoint is respected to the point of her own demise?

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com Jonathan

    How do you explain the mother’s decision to these children when they grow up?

    You don’t have to. All they need to know is that their mother died giving birth, giving them life. Why would you want to tell them anything else.

    Say what you want about the values of someone refusing lifesaving medical help, but don’t use the children to forward you own political/belief agenda :o)

  • Mriana

    Oh yes, tell the kids mom died giving birth to them. Child’s thought, “I killed my mother!” Very good. Now let’s get them psychotherapy. Not that the JWs won’t cause them to need therapy.

  • http://nogodsallowed.wordpress.com cg

    I’d say we’re seeing a case of Darwinism in action, were it not for the fact that she produced offspring.

    All kidding aside, wow, just, wow. What an utterly selfish thing to do, depriving those children of their mother. I thought parenting was about sacrifice.

    Of course, I’ve heard other parents reckon that parenting itself is a form of suicide… choose your battles I guess. She took the easy way out.

  • Darryl

    I view the right to refuse medical treatment like the right of freedom of speech: you may be saying stupid and nasty things, but I’ll defend your right to do so because to defend your right is to defend my own. When and if I choose to end my life I don’t want some stranger deciding to prevent me from doing so. This is a part of liberty. This woman exercised her right to be stupid and free. Who knows, maybe some good will come from this.

    cautious said,

    Socially, what’s more important, that a mother stay alive to help raise her children, or that a woman’s religious viewpoint is respected to the point of her own demise?

    Preserving freedom of choice for all is more important than preserving one life: the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

  • ash

    sorry to pick on this poster, but i’m just using these words to illustrate a point –

    I’m all for personal freedom and the right to [non] religious expression, but, I also think that the greater good is sometimes served by crushing personal, selfish concerns.

    if it’s not ok for a religious anti-abortionist to use this argument, how the hell is it ok to use this argument here?

    doctors are not superhuman with a better sense of morality than us mere mortals, and it’s not like they can never be accused of dodgy ethical practises – and even if they were, i would still just rather the medical profession inform, support and enable my choices about my body.

    no matter, as previously mentioned, how stoopid those choices are.

  • Ben

    How do you explain the mother’s decision to these children when they grow up?

    Presumably, you raise the children to have the same beliefs. Then the explanation makes perfect sense.

    When the Jehovah’s Witness scenario came up, the first thought that went through my mind was that their beliefs (at least in regards to the transfusion issue) don’t deserve to be respected. It’s irrational. It’s harmful.

    She acted in self-interest in the light of her beliefs and her situation. It is NOT on the doctors to ignore her beliefs and override her decision. It would be on everyone else to convince her to think rationally before the situation came up.

    There’s no need to respect beliefs that are flat-out wrong when a person’s life is at stake.

    There’s no need to respect beliefs at all. There is a need to respect people who hold beliefs, but not the beliefs themselves.

  • http://www.acosmopolitan.blogspot.com/ Anatoly

    While this case shows quite well how harmful religion can be to the people who believe in it themselves, I strongly disagree that doctors should intervene. Like a few others have said in the comments – it’s not for them to impose their notion of morality upon their patients (though such imposition will certainly seem good from our perspective). If it was up to them to impose morality – what’s there to stop highly religious doctors to opposing assisted suicide or other controversial topics? In a very simple hypothetical example – even refusing to treat someone based upon their religious beliefs. Morality can go both ways here and it’s because we don’t have a top-down imposition of morality by people of authority (or shouldn’t) that allows us to live in a society that we can describe as “free.”

  • http://daybydayhsing.blogspot.com Dawn

    Framing this as a a religious issue only gets us part way there. The ultimate question is, does a person have the right (whatever their reasons) to refuse life saving treatment? That the woman did it for religious reasons is a distraction.

  • Linda Lindsey

    I think it was a stupid decision on all their parts, but I have to agree with not forcing her to live.

    What would the family and church’s reaction have been if she had been forced to have the transfusion? I’m not talking about suing the doctors. Would they have ostracized her? Would she have been overcome with guilt, blamed the children and taken it out on them? Would she have committed suicide over it? You just don’t know.

    I don’t think forcing her to have a transfusion would have necessarily made for a happy ending. If their religious belief is that strong that they, and she, would willingly let her die then you don’t know what sort of mental or emotional mayhem might have resulted. Fanatics don’t think like most people.

  • Mriana

    The thing is we can say the JWs, this man and woman were wrong, and then turn around and say it was their right to refuse medical treatment but the thing is…

    Some religious beliefs kill!

    (right now, I’m trying to think of one that doesn’t though) Yes, if forced to have the transfusion, she probably still will have killed herself. So, it doesn’t change my statement above.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    What if the doctors were wrong in ordering the transfusion? They could be in some instances. Would you still be in favor of forced transfusion? You can come up with all kinds of mitigations and what ifs but the one undeniable fact is that this woman was an adult and adults get to refuse treatments unless they have been placed under someone else’s guardianship. How far would you go in compelling people to have treatment they don’t want? Psychoactive drugs? Other kinds of drugs with serious side effects? How about forcing people to stop doing things that are potentially self-destructive?

    Forgive me for suspecting it is the religious nature of the reason for rejecting the treatment that has moved you to post this. While I disagree with their reason and wouldn’t have any trouble with treating a minor child over the objections of their parents and even themselves – society has a duty to protect children even from their parents in life-and-death situations – it has no duty or right to force adults to receive treatment.

  • Nick

    Natural Selection?

  • Stephen

    Morality can go both ways here and it’s because we don’t have a top-down imposition of morality by people of authority (or shouldn’t) that allows us to live in a society that we can describe as “free.”

    Well said. I’m sick of conservative morality being imposed on America, but I would be a hypocrite if I turned around and wanted *my* morality imposed on America.

    On one level, I think a lot of good *might* have been done by ignoring her and saving her life, unless of course it ended up playing out like Linda Lindsey describes above (that happened in a Babylon 5 episode, actually). But on a larger level, it would seriously compromise people’s faith in the medical system. Medicine should work with us, not against us, in deciding what we want to do with our bodies, and even if this woman is wrong and even cruel in abandoning her children, saving her life would have set an even worse precedent.

  • Mriana

    What would the family and church’s reaction have been if she had been forced to have the transfusion? I’m not talking about suing the doctors. Would they have ostracized her? Would she have been overcome with guilt, blamed the children and taken it out on them? Would she have committed suicide over it? You just don’t know.

    Maybe all the above. JWs have a tendency to “disfellowship” people who don’t go by their rules. When that happens, they’re families, in JW, are not allowed to associate with them. So, they end up isolated and alone. Now, IF you or I got kicked out of a church or group, we’d say, “Oh well, I’ll just go to the ______” Fill in the blank. We’d still have our family and friends outside that particular group or church. So, it’s no big deal. A JW doesn’t. JW is cult-like, if not a cult, thus why they are nearly isolationist. Once disfellowshipped, they have no one, so the chances are higher that she MIGHT have committed suicide, unless she did whatever they said to be accepted into the group again. Either way, she still would not have had her babies, because the her husband probably would not have been disfellowshipped over it, so he would get the babies and she would not get to even see them. No court would mess with it, because it’s religious. :roll:

  • Pat

    While I’m against the religiously-motivated idiocy that this case illustrates, shouldn’t she (Emma Gough) have the right to refuse any treatment she wishes?
    I am surprised by the number of comments on this board that state they would have the transfusion forced on this woman.

  • stogoe

    I pity her children, both because their mother was a selfish, delusional crazy who would rather die than raise her own children, and because they’ll be indoctrinated into the same selfish delusional crazy that she was.

    The mother? She can rot in the cold, cold ground until the worms take the last of her. And she will.

    If anyone has been wronged by her religious stupidity (a redundancy in most cases, I know), it’s her children.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    I am surprised by the number of comments on this board that state they would have the transfusion forced on this woman. Pat

    Considering the attitude that most neo-atheists have about people they disagree with and the pandemic of the assumption of their superiority, I’m more surprised and very happy to see that there are so many who wouldn’t.

    The “skeptical” and neo-atheist movements are mostly a bunch of people who get their jollies congratulating themselves on how much more brilliant they are than those outside their cults. It’s a short step from that to side-stepping basic civil rights.

  • cautious

    if it’s not ok for a religious anti-abortionist to use this argument, how the hell is it ok to use this argument here?

    Because …birth control isn’t selfish? Because it serves the greater good to have less unwanted children? Because it serves the greater good to not force women to remain pregnant if they do not want to be?

    Y’all are right about it being every adult’s decision whether to live or not, and despite my ethical opposition to people who are not in the terminal cases of a degenerative disease or condition to refuse life-saving medical treatment (particularly if they do have family [like say, two newborn children] that need them alive), I do support the right of adults to make stupid, fatal decisions.

    The utilitarian in me just doesn’t like the math in this particular equation (at least three lives made more difficult at the cost of one person’s happiness? does not compute) and that’s the main reason I went all morally despotic. But you folks are right, blanket freedom of religious expression trumps the idea of choosing on a case-by-case level which people get to have their rights and those who do not.

    This scenario is just one more bad case in which religious faith has extinguished common sense. In the Babylon 5 episode mentioned above, I mean, anything’s possible, maybe surgery did actually violate those aliens and remove their soul. Somehow. Maybe the JWs are right. Maybe getting a blood transfusion does ruin someone’s chances of getting into Heaven.

    Wait a minute, blood transfusions make people not get into heaven? Damn, no wonder I love to give blood.

  • James

    I’ve heard and read cases where JWs literally search entire cities and states for an alternative hospital when they are told that there religious wishes will not be granted. In fact, the courts do get involved in some cases involving children. The JWs have a Blood Liason Comity which is a legal department within the organisation to step in for patients when they have legal issues with blood transfusions. I’ve not heard of someone being disfellowshiped for a forced blood transfusion. However, if they cave in to the pressure to accept blood, they won’t be used by the organisation in any leadership capacity and may find themselves shunned to varying degrees within their congregation. They certainly have the right in my opinion as an autonamous adult to refuse. I just find it sad that they are hailed and extolled in the organisation as virtuous and faithful to their god. Parents in this religion are teaching their children that this course of action is good in gods eyes and will be rewarded!

  • Mriana

    Maybe the JWs are right. Maybe getting a blood transfusion does ruin someone’s chances of getting into Heaven.

    WHAT? :shock: I’m sorry, but this makes no sense at all.

    I maybe a non-theist, but I think I know the Bible fairly well. Mike C or anyone else who has a better grasp, correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall anything in the Bible concerning blood transfusions much less accepting them causing one not to be admitted in heaven. Thus, why the statement simply makes no sense- theististically or non-theistically

  • cautious

    Considering the attitude that most neo-atheists have about people they disagree with and the pandemic of the assumption of their superiority,

    So basically your disagreement with neo-atheists is your opinion that they want to become a secular version of religious authority? Dawkins et al. want to be the atheist clergy?

  • cautious

    WHAT? :shock: I’m sorry, but this makes no sense at all.

    Sorry to scare ya, Mriana. I’m just being as devil’s advocatey as I can.

    To quote wiki on this,

    “This is based on an understanding of the Biblical admonition to ” abstain from … blood,” based on Acts 15:28, 29, and also on Leviticus 17:11,12, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood … No soul of you shall eat blood,” and of Genesis 9:3, 4, which they understand to be the first instance of “the Bible’s clear prohibition against taking blood into the body.””

    Obviously the Bible never uses the term “transfusions” but, in the JW interpretation of the Bible…yes, taking blood out of one person and putting it into another is bad. Like “get out of the church now” bad. Which, ok, ok, I overstated myself and mentioned getting kicked out of heaven, which…that’s a bit of fiction there, sorry to unintentionally mislead.

  • Polly

    The doctors should have the ability to intervene in times like these.

    Funny that a person who believes in Choice, would be so quick to abandon that ideal when the choice is antithetical to their own deeply held moral beliefs – go figure.
    The woman allowed herself to die. If it were someone else, like her children, it would be a completely different situation and doctors should intervene. But, she’s a grown woman and we allot her freedom like anyone else.

    Having said that…

    OTOH, if doctors saved her against her will, either:
    a) she would be off the hook spiritually speaking because she didn’t intend the sin, it was forced on her
    or b)she’d feel so guilty that she’d do something to harm herself (unlikely). More likely she’d just ask forgiveness, do some JW equivalent of penance, and get on with living. Possibly even changing her mind someday about the B.S. she’s bought into.

  • Polly

    So basically your disagreement with neo-atheists is your opinion that they want to become a secular version of religious authority?

    I’m an atheist and I worry about this.
    I distrust anyone who thinks they know what’s best – which includes virtually everyone. :)

  • Richard Wade

    It would break my heart to watch her die.

    If I could force her to take my blood in order to save her, she could force me to go to her church to “save” me.

    There is no overall good solution to this. People kill and die for their beliefs and the innocent are dragged into it. Only time will make people’s beliefs more pragmatic. Tragic incidents like this move the process along.

    I’m scheduling a blood donation at the Red Cross today.

  • http://www.cogspace.com/ Katie Molnar

    A note:

    “Good Samaritan” laws permit any person — doctor or not — to perform life-saving treatments even if it means breaking a law, without facing a criminal suit. True, there could still be a civil suit, but I would expect any case of a patient suing a doctor who saved her life to be thrown out instantaneously.

    Now, I don’t know if such a law is in effect where she live… er… died like a moron, but I do know that here, a root canal is considered life-saving surgery, and malpractice charges cannot be filed against a dentist for a mistake in such an operation as a result.

    Anyway, I say fine, one less moron in the world — too bad her children will grow up without her, but hopefully they’ll come to hate her and her religion for killing her, and end up rational freethinkers. The world loses a moron and gains two potential atheists. I call that a win.

    I still feel sorry for the kids, having to grow up with just a father. Hopefully he will remarry or is a more capable parent than the mother.

    And the family response… “We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.”… complete idiocy. Or maybe they weren’t told of the refusal. Compared to orphaning children, I’d consider lying to loved ones a virtue.

  • ash

    @cautious, at the risk of sidetracking this thread, i was thinking of the comparison of religious anti-abortionists claiming that the ultimate greater good is the preservation of any conceived life (even in its early cellular stages) whether it risks the welfare/health of the mother or not. ie, if that moral opinion became the norm, and abortion was seen as a purely selfish concern that could be overridden for the greater good (of society and the unborn child) we could again be discussing if it’s ok to force someone into medical ‘decisions’ not of their own choosing. in my opinion, it’s not. whichever subject we’re discussing.

    sorry guys, sometimes my mind derails and i gotta go with it. i shall try to learn restraint.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    So basically your disagreement with neo-atheists is your opinion that they want to become a secular version of religious authority? Dawkins et al. want to be the atheist clergy?

    cautious, when you say “clergy” you seem to imply that all clergy wants to rule over other peoples’ lives. There are those who do but there are large numbers of clergy in many different religions who don’t aspire to that form of political and judicial coercion. I’m sure there are neo-atheists and even “skeptics” who don’t either but there are many who have no problem with interfering in peoples’ basic civil rights, as this thread shows. Dawkins, I suspect that living under his rule wouldn’t be the “free thinkers” nirvana some of them expect it would be. That guy’s got megalomania written all over him. I’d have no problem living under atheists like John Mortimer, as I’ve written here before.

  • Darryl

    Considering the attitude that most neo-atheists have about people they disagree with and the pandemic of the assumption of their superiority, I’m more surprised and very happy to see that there are so many who wouldn’t.

    Yeh? And what study are you basing this on? Or perhaps you have a polling company and have tested opinions among a sampling of neo-atheists? Or maybe you’re just more insightful than most–you see things that others don’t.

    The “skeptical” and neo-atheist movements are mostly a bunch of people who get their jollies congratulating themselves on how much more brilliant they are than those outside their cults. It’s a short step from that to side-stepping basic civil rights.

    Let’s see, what do we have here? Reactionism, alarmism, hints of an inferiority complex, presumptiousness, fatuousness, rudeness, everything but the Hitler argument. You’re slipping Olvlzl.

    . . . there are large numbers of clergy in many different religions who don’t aspire to that form of political and judicial coercion. I’m sure there are neo-atheists and even “skeptics” who don’t either but there are many who have no problem with interfering in peoples’ basic civil rights, as this thread shows.

    Just as I’m sure there are many theists and believers who would favor coercion and many that would not–so what? There is no necessary causal connection between atheism and favoring coercion, so one’s views on this case may have nothing whatsoever to do with atheism.

    The rush for the cheap shot bypasses logic and good sense.

  • http://gnattressmac.com Graeme

    This is all very sad. I thought comitting suicide was a sin, and isn’t that what she did? She had the chance to stay alive, but deliberately didn’t take it – knowing it would mean her death.

    On the other hand, for the Doctors to stand by and let her die is either assisted suicide or manslaughter, both of which are illegal and the Doctors should realise this and done everything in their power to save the woman.

    Refusal of blood should be taken as a sure sign of mental abnormality, and that should allow any Doctor to intervene and save her.

  • J Sveda

    cautious said:

    Sorry to scare ya, Mriana. I’m just being as devil’s advocatey as I can.

    To quote wiki on this,

    “This is based on an understanding of the Biblical admonition to ” abstain from … blood,” based on Acts 15:28, 29, and also on Leviticus 17:11,12, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood … No soul of you shall eat blood,” and of Genesis 9:3, 4, which they understand to be the first instance of “the Bible’s clear prohibition against taking blood into the body.””

    I simply can’t think of single way in which this applies to transfusions. That Leviticus verse refer to _ingesting_ blood. Transfusion were not known at that time, therefore the belief is unfounded und I concur to anyone who says that’s idiotic belief.

    The issue whether to force transfusions is highly problematic, though. It remind me of one story in the book Seven years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer. In the story, Harrer was asked by young Dalai-lama to build a cinema for him. However, digging in soil was quite a problem, because the workers were of course Buddhists and every time some earthworm showed up, the spotted digging and carefully took the worm to safety. It hindered progress and Harrer was upset by this. However, he had to respect the workers’ beliefs.

  • http://emergingdesign.blogspot.com Jim RL

    This story was just sad and enraging. I’m filled with the overwhelming sense that someone should have done something. Either the husband should have said fine, I’ll sin and take the eternal consequences to save his wife’s life, or the medical staff should have said fine I’ll break the law and take the legal consequences to save this woman’s life. What did Emma Gough get out of the hospital respecting her beliefs? She got nothing. She’s dead, and won’t get to see her children grow up. It’s a tradegy in every sense of the word.

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com/ Jonathan

    Ok, so we live in a world where traditional Christian family values are not valued, but we seem to be making a mountain out of a molehill because these children are going to grow up with out their mum? What about children whose parents divorced, what do you tell them ‘oh gee, after you were born we just didn’t love each other any more’

    What the father tells the kids isn’t important right now, can’t we all focus on the fact that the kids are fine, and leave the mums decision as something that she had the right to do?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Darryl, so condescension regarding religious believers as as scarce as hens teeth among neo-atheists. And so is intolerance of religious peoples’ decisions based in their religion. Um, hum. I see.

    I’m kind of surprised that it was this comment that put your pinny in a knot again. As for slipping, read just the parts of what I wrote that you chose to quote, your responses are rather contradicted by them.

  • Richard Wade

    It doesn’t matter what the husband or relatives or medical staff would, could or should have done. The woman made the decision. She made it while she was conscious and competent. She knew what it meant. I don’t agree with her choice but I agree with her having the choice.

    To go against her choice is to open us all up to being forced to do whatever the people who are in power at the time decide is good for us. We already have too much of that. History is filled with awful stories about paternalism, authority “doing what’s good” for people against their will. If you think your particular values are the ones that should be forced upon everyone, beware. They will be replaced by the values of the next compassionate, well-meaning despot.

  • Nurse Ingrid

    I am shocked at the number of commenters who are in favor of involuntary blood transfusions. How is that consistent with being a freethinker? If you don’t have the freedom of your own body and your own conscience, what on earth DO you have?

    I am a medical provider who cares for people with HIV, and I sometimes have to remind myself that competent adults have the right to refuse lifesaving treatment. I mean, what are we proposing here? Should my patients who are AIDS denialists be locked up in jail and have the pills forced down their throats every day? Should this woman have been strapped down and had the needle shoved in her arm while she struggled?

    Our job as medical providers is to be sure that our patients are giving informed consent, and to speak up vociferously if we think they are putting their lives at risk. But if a patient can look me in the eye and say “I realize that I could die if I make this decision,” then that is their right in a free society.

    That doesn’t mean I think what they’re doing is OK, by the way. I am appalled by what this woman did, but I will defend her right to do it. I agree with the analogy to free speech — if I’m for it, then I don’t get to make an exception for certain speech just because I find it reprehensible.

    Oh, and if the babies needed a blood transfusion, that’s a no-brainer. Children do not forfeit their right to life just because their parents are religious wackos.

  • Polly

    Playing devil’s advocate:
    Is it so stupid to die for one’s principles? If the thing she chose to die for were freedom or the right to form unions or for democracy in a theocratic state, would we be calling her a “moron”? If she risked her life going to another country as a peace activist and ended up dying, would that be “stupidity”?
    Is it just that she died for something WE don’t believe in that makes this so offensive???
    Bear with me, whoever read this far…I’m trying to make sure I know what it is that bothers me about this. I think, for me, the problem is that no one was helped, and her family was deeply scarred, by her taking a stand for Jehova. No (perceivable) moral evil was averted by her refusing treatment. JWs may say that others are strengthened in their faith, but life offers plenty of real dilemmas and temptations. Why add to human misery by creating more?
    That’s why this action is so repugnant. It’s like someone stepping in front of a bus, to avoid stepping on a crack in the sidewalk, you know, because it’s bad luck.
    Utterly. Pointless. Loss.

  • Larry Huffman

    I think that it is important not to confuse euthanasia with a life saving procedure to begin with. No one will rationally consider this instance on par with a terminally ill or elderly person’s wish to not be kept alive. Also, this is not what would be considered by today’s standards extraordinary measures. A blood transfusion is a fairly routine (when called for) procedure today.

    I do not believe that anyone should be held accountable for saving a life. Medical science can very easily demonstrate that loss of blood minus a transfusion = death. Therefore I believe that a transfusion that will save a person’s life should be considered a non-extraordinary means of saving a life (as opposed to being on a ventilator and having feeding tubes for months or years).

    If you follow this further..take the case of a person who tries to committ suicide. If I take a bottle of pills and I am discovered, medical professionals will, regardless of my protests, save my life (usually enforced and backed by police). They will pump my stomach…administer additional drugs…hospitalize me…and even put me on life support to undo my suicide attempt. I have no say…and unlike this young woman, they would be doing exactly the opposite of what I wanted (keeping me alive) She was not even there to kill herself but to give birth…it seems far less forced in her case than in a suicide case. We are speaking of an act of saving a life, which I believe must always be respected above religious dogma and doctrine by society (whether believers agree or not)..

    As to whether doctors should have this power…well, they do. As you see in the case of suicide, they have the right to completely bypass my direct wishes and save me. As they should. Why is this any different? It is the sacred cow of religion that rears it’s utterly irrational head and tied these doctors hands. Had she been a drug addict intentionally overdosing she would be here today after medical help…but she is a young newlywed mother who is a Witness, and so she is dead. Shameful.

    In the case above, I believe the laws should be written to consider any formal refusal of life saving medical help (this would have to be detailed so as not to interfere with terminal patients, long term care, etc) as a suicide attempt. When that young mother said she refused the transfusion…she should have been deemed a suicide patient…had the transfusion given to her…and to boot have to undergo counselling for suicide. After all…that is exactly what it was. Suicide by religious dogma. Plain and simple.

    This is really a vivid example of why we should not be afraid to call harmful religious practices for what they are. I do not believe we should respect ANYONES belief that is detrimental to society. Any dogma that teaches death before mundane medical procedures is harmful and is detrimental to society. It was harmful to the young mother…and it will prove to be harmful to her new babies in the long run.

  • Mriana

    “This is based on an understanding of the Biblical admonition to ” abstain from … blood,” based on Acts 15:28, 29, and also on Leviticus 17:11,12, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood … No soul of you shall eat blood,” and of Genesis 9:3, 4, which they understand to be the first instance of “the Bible’s clear prohibition against taking blood into the body.””

    Yet they celebrate Holy Communion, I suppose?

    Graeme said,

    November 6, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    This is all very sad. I thought comitting suicide was a sin, and isn’t that what she did? She had the chance to stay alive, but deliberately didn’t take it – knowing it would mean her death.

    No, in this case, it was God’s will- according to them at least.

    I simply can’t think of single way in which this applies to transfusions. That Leviticus verse refer to _ingesting_ blood. Transfusion were not known at that time, therefore the belief is unfounded und I concur to anyone who says that’s idiotic belief.

    I agree with you, Sveda. It still makes no sense in that context.

    Nurse Ingrid said,

    November 6, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    If you don’t have the freedom of your own body and your own conscience, what on earth DO you have?

    An anorexic.

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    I do not believe we should respect ANYONES belief that is detrimental to society. Any dogma that teaches death before mundane medical procedures is harmful and is detrimental to society. It was harmful to the young mother…and it will prove to be harmful to her new babies in the long run.

    First, we have the technology and means available to allow the husband to raise the kids without their mother, so I’m not quite sure I buy your “harmful to the children” argument. A lot of mothers die for all sorts of reasons when their children are young and they turn out just fine.

    Second, this could prove to be helpful to the children because one day the kids may look back at the decision their mother made and decide she was an idiot and religion was the main cause of her bad decision and thus they will decide to shun religion.

    Third, who is going to determine what a mundane medical procedure is and when it should be forced upon someone or when someone’s beliefs are detrimental to society. If this woman was instead bitten by a strange dog which seems to be rabid, do we have the right to force her to get a rabies vaccine if she doesn’t want one? What if a woman’s religious beliefs convinced her that she should never seek medical treatment because God will take care of her? For what illnesses/problems should we feel comfortable forcing treatment upon her?

  • Miresse

    This is a very sad story to hear about, especially since it’s not an isolated case. Similar to JWs, Christian Science believers face a similar fate (though it extends far beyond refusing blood transfusions). These people who are strongly discouraged from seeking medical attention from anyone not of their faith put their children in grave danger because of their own personal “deeply held spiritual beliefs”. Very sad, indeed.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Mriana, I don’t believe they celebrate communion in the way you imply. That’s sort of a hobby horse with you folks. There are a number of different interpretations as to what Jesus meant when he said, My body and my blood. I think you would find that the literal presence is a minority position, though it’s not something I’m going to bother looking up.

    Mriana said:

    Nurse Ingrid said,

    November 6, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    If you don’t have the freedom of your own body and your own conscience, what on earth DO you have?

    An anorexic.

    No, you have the position of the anti-choice lobby. People own their own bodies, your right to say what they do with it doesn’t extend past their skin.

  • Mriana

    Mriana said:

    Nurse Ingrid said,

    November 6, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    If you don’t have the freedom of your own body and your own conscience, what on earth DO you have?

    An anorexic.

    olvlzl, no ism, no ist said,

    November 6, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    No, you have the position of the anti-choice lobby. People own their own bodies, your right to say what they do with it doesn’t extend past their skin.

    Olvlzl, you misunderstand. Anorexia is a control issue. One of the reasons as to why a person with anorexia does not eat is because that is the only thing they feel they have control of in their lives. I know this from past experience. I was quite serious.

  • Claire

    Playing devil’s advocate:
    Is it so stupid to die for one’s principles? If the thing she chose to die for were freedom or the right to form unions or for democracy in a theocratic state, would we be calling her a “moron”? If she risked her life going to another country as a peace activist and ended up dying, would that be “stupidity”?
    Is it just that she died for something WE don’t believe in that makes this so offensive???

    If she had somehow(?) died while fighting for the right for people to refuse medical treatment, that would have been dying for her principles. What happened to her was that she died FROM her principles, a completely different thing, and not particularly admirable.

    I think you had it right, though, Polly, when you said the upsetting thing was the sheer pointless stupid loss.

    It’s not uncommon for superstitions and medical myths of all kinds to be responsible for people refusing medical treatment. Medical professionals are required to respect that refusal for everyone, other than someone attempting suicide, who is assumed to have impaired judgement (which isn’t always the case, but that’s the rule).

    However, it’s only when the refusal is on religious grounds that there is a widespread view (ok, not in this audience, but in general) that that decision deserves honor and may even be considered as somehow noble rather than just incredibly stupid. Somehow, religion rather than simple ignorance is supposed to make it ok. I don’t see it.

    Stupid is as stupid does. And then, stupid dies.

  • cautious

    I’ve been thinking of a reason why a non-religious person would want to refuse a life-saving blood transfusion, and all I’ve been able to come up with are these two options:

    1) If the blood needed to keep me alive had to come from someone else, and that person would need to die so that I may live, then I would refuse the blood transfusion.

    2) This blood transfusion is unsanitary in the sense that either the medical supplies or the blood is tainted and I wouldn’t live for very long after said transfusion, then I would refuse the blood transfusion.

    Basically the vampire and the AIDS options.

    Until one of these two options comes around, I’m going to still consider that humans who refuse a life-saving blood transfusion are doing so for irrational reasons, but if they are adults, then, fine, their bad decision. This is a bit hypocritical on my part: I think, for instance, that mandatory seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws are good things because they help prevent death. I guess to fully support civil rights I should also be in support of peoples’ rights to be impaled on their steering column when they’re driving.

    I’m sure there are neo-atheists and even “skeptics” who don’t either but there are many who have no problem with interfering in peoples’ basic civil rights, as this thread shows.

    olvlzl, In trying to reply to this I realized that religious and non-religious people both have a stated fondness for civil rights but disagree on what these civil rights should be. eg Many religious people think that people of different sexual orientations don’t deserve the same rights as heterosexuals, whereas non-religious people are usually more tolerant of non-heteronormality. OTOH, many non-religious people, if push came to shove, would state the world would be a better place without religion, a viewpoint religious people find immensely intolerant. NOTE: people diverging from these stereotypes, good for you, you are acting out of the mold, bravo.

    So, yeah. In much the same way that everyone’s a little bit racist, I think that everyone is a little bit anti-civil rights, because civil rights (beyond the basic things like “don’t stab your neighbor in the eye”) can be very fluid, and some rights that some people think are worthless are actually crucial to the existence of other people.

    Seriously, if everyone could give the same answer on “what are civil rights and who deserves them?” there would be …well, not a lack of debate, but quite a few of the culture battles going in this country would be muted. And maybe Congress and the President and the Supreme Court could all figure out a definition of torture.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Olvlzl, you misunderstand. Anorexia is a control issue.

    Mriana, I understand a lot more about anorexia than you suspect, having seen it come to its conclusion in the worst possible way. There isn’t any evidence that the woman in the story was mentally ill in any meaningful sense. If she hadn’t needed the transfusion the issue wouldn’t have come up, the same isn’t true of mental illness.

    cautious, I don’t think religious liberals are any less “tolerant” of gay people than non-religious people, being gay myself I’ve got a bit of experience in the matter. You ever hear of the Metropolitan Community Church? I’ve seldom met people more accepting of gay people than religious liberals, in general. Atheists aren’t immune to bigotry anymore than religious people are prone to it, it’s a matter of individual character.

  • Headache

    She committed suicide.

    I wish that the doctor had intervened (but I’m sure that they were afraid of legal actions.) She would not have been in unending physical pain had she received the transfusion unlike many terminally ill patients who might contemplate euthanasia.

    I hope that her husband learned something.

  • Mriana

    olvlzl, I wasn’t talking about the woman. I was answering the question. You missed the point completely. If people don’t have control over themselves, they find something they do have control of.

  • Stephen

    or the medical staff should have said fine I’ll break the law and take the legal consequences to save this woman’s life.

    Easy for you to say, but that medical staff needed their jobs so they could, you know, eat.

  • Siamang

    People who push this fake religion are murderers. They are the ones doing the evil here, and I’m not afraid to call this evil.

    I hate how evil is excused because “faith is a virtue”. Killing people by brainwashing them to refuse lifesaving medicine is evil.

    This world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of hocus-pocus.

    I’m still for freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, and it’s none of the government’s business to step in here, nor the doctors to force anyone.

    But it’s about time people stood up and called this evil.

  • David Lester

    There are a lot of hypocrites using this site. Of course… the religion of atheism is here. Has nobody heard of people dying for what they believe to be right? Rightly or wrongly, millions were prepared to lay down their lives in the name of ‘religion’ and ‘King and Country’ during the 1st and 2nd world wars- sanctioned by Catholics, Protestants and atheists. And yes, Hitler was an atheist. Hypocrites complain that one person dies because of her faith, and yet they hail as heros those who are killed in the theatre of war leaving behind their grieving families.

    If blood were a new drug, it would not be given a licence because of the dangers associated with its use. Many medical facilities in the UK now offer bloodless medical management. Why? Because the medical profession recognise the serious health risks associated with blood. According to the UK Department of Health, as of February 2007, due to contaminated blood transfusions, 955 people in the UK have died of CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE). The ignorant will cry “well at least they tried!” But I wonder how many of the 955 now dead would still be alive today if they had ‘tried’ with better, safer non-blood medical treatment. Many of the 955 died 6 to 8 years after receiving the contaminated blood transfusion. Perhaps if any reading have received a blood transfusion in the last 10 years, it would be a good idea watch out for mad cow symptoms. Reading the last comment by Siamang, it looks like mad cow disease has already set in. We could also mention the 1000′s (if not millions) who have died due to blood contaminated with AIDS. How many people have been killed by blood transfusions? How many children are there who have been orphaned due to blood transfusions?

    An eminent medical Professor stated quite rightly, “The evolution of our understanding in this field shows that blood transfusions must one day die out.”

    Yes, the bible does say to avoid blood. I have read it. Perhaps God does know and thing or two about public health issues.

  • Maria

    There’s no need to respect beliefs at all. There is a need to respect people who hold beliefs, but not the beliefs themselves.

    I agree

  • Philosopher Jeff

    I agree with the majority of comments and disagree with Hemant. The doctors did the correct thing by not forcing a transfusion.

    Sad things happen every day and dictating societal (or personal) control over other’s bodies will not make things better.

    Hemant, I love your desire to reduce antagonistic behaviors by Atheists as you lead by example, but you are wrong to claim moral superiority.

  • Siamang

    Philosopher Jeff wrote

    “…but you are wrong to claim moral superiority.”

    Can you actually make that assertion without making an implicit moral claim yourself?

  • Richard Wade

    the religion of atheism is here.

    And yes, Hitler was an atheist.

    (hand slapping forehead, dragging down face until the fingers wiggle blubada blubada blubada on the lips)

    When will these myths ever die?

  • http://micketymoc.bluechronicles.net/ micketymoc

    There are a lot of hypocrites using this site.

    No worries, David, there’s always room for one more! :)

  • Siamang

    An eminent medical Professor stated quite rightly, “The evolution of our understanding in this field shows that blood transfusions must one day die out.”

    Whenever believers start quoting unnamed “eminent” experts I have to snicker. What gullible idiots these folks are or must think us to be… did you buy this bullshit hook line and sinker, without attribution, without evidence, without proof and without even a name that could lead you to find out if there was evidence at all for this claim?

    Or do you think that we are stupid enough to buy your line because you say “HEY, an unnamed smart guy sez so.”?

    Grow some skepticism, you’re being fed a line. PT Barnum had a field day with folks like you.

    Too bad this lady had to die because of peddlers of this stuff.

  • Jen

    1. The woman absolutely should not have had the treatment forced on her. She made her decision, and the doctors do not have a right to overcede it unless there are some circumstances- ie: she isn’t in her right mind. Most of my beliefs center around the fact that we should respect people’s autonomy. I took a medical ethics class in college, and we discussed the role of doctors, and there are different, somethings conflicting, goals that doctors have. I can’t remember all of them, but it isn’t all about saving lives or prolonging them; sometimes, its about helping people die with dignity, or conducting research, or help populations control disease, etc.

    2. Atheists, in my opinion, should be pro-autonomy, because without it, governments are free to push religion unto us.

    3. I kind of want to punch this woman’s family for their whole stupid ‘shouldn’t they have saved her?’ crap.

    4. Davis Lester, you mentioned Hitler in your very first post on this site, Congrats, you are full of fail. Hermant, can you make first-time posters sign something saying they won’t give us these damn atheist bingos before they post? Pretty please?
    3/

  • Richard Wade

    But Jen, the first-time posters who are full of all the silly stereotypes about atheists are what we sharpen our teeth on. That and babies. But let’s try to be friendly.

  • Richard Wade

    David Lester, welcome.
    Perhaps I have missed it in the above comments but I can’t find any reference to war or the two world wars, or any comparison of the woman’s death to those who die fighting in war. Who are the hypocrites hailing heroes of whom you speak?

    Most of the people commenting here value individual freedom very highly, and they also value life very highly. That is why they are upset, because the woman used her individual freedom to forego a medical procedure and lost her life. From the point of view of those who do not share her particular faith it was a sad waste. From her point of view it apparently was not.

    In the discussion some are responding more to the freedom to choose side and others are responding more to the love of life side. The arguments have been strong for both points and there is no simple answer that will satisfy everyone. It is a dilemma that caring, thoughtful and rational people are prone to. We recognize that life is not neat and clean, cut and dry, black and white. We have to use our judgment in difficult decisions rather than dogmatic, predetermined rules and the outcome is never happy for everyone and often not entirely happy for anyone.

    I have donated many pints of blood in the last 39 years, and I’m a registered marrow donor. I keep my blood unpolluted and healthy. I’m confident that nobody ever got sick from by blood. It’s O+ so anybody can use it. That type is called the universal donor. I like the sound of that. Not having a surplus of money to give to those in need, I find a great joy in being able to give to strangers whom I will never meet something as personal as a part of my body in order to help them. It’s the only part that I can grow back. If I could grow back my limbs in just a few days I’d donate them to those in need too, but sadly only blood and marrow are replaceable.

    Now if you don’t want my blood that’s okay, I understand. I sincerely hope that you never suffer a serious injury involving a large loss of blood. If you choose to refuse transfusions on the basis of your religious principles then it’s probably best to stick with that as a sufficient reason. Making claims about widespread contamination in blood supplies will really demand that you back up your claims with credible and specific sources, and it just kind of cheapens your stance. If you want to refuse for your beliefs that should be reason enough.

  • Mriana

    Philosopher Jeff said,

    November 7, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    I agree with the majority of comments and disagree with Hemant. The doctors did the correct thing by not forcing a transfusion.

    China’s drs do, but I don’t think they have a very good outgoing society either. There’s too much control of people there… but then again, they are Communist or something like that aren’t they? I wouldn’t want to live in that sort of society where they tell me how many kids I can have, what drug to take for this or that, force my mouth open for this treatment. It’s not very humane after a while.

    An eminent medical Professor stated quite rightly, “The evolution of our understanding in this field shows that blood transfusions must one day die out.”

    That professor needs a thump on the head. My older son is A+ and a self-proclaimed Buddhist. A couple days after he donated, my aunt’s bleeding ulcers were so bad, that if she had not been found when she was, she would have died. Ironcally, she’s A+ and had 3 quarts of blood. It brings tears to my eyes that it may have been my son who saved her life. Without it, she would have died.

    I told her about the irony and she said maybe it was God’s doing. I can’t argue with those beliefs. I won’t argue with those beliefs, because they because they aren’t life threatening. I’m just thankful my son was big enough to donate and that he had donated blood a few days before, because if he hadn’t, the outcome might not have been so good. Maybe it was coinsidence, maybe it wasn’t, but to think that my son might have been the one who saved my aunt’s life brings mixed emotion tears to my eyes. 67 is too young to die and if a young man of 18 y.o. and the person I gave life to was the one who saved her life, it makes the irony of it all even that much more powerful.

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com/ Jonathan

    That and babies. But let’s try to be friendly.

    What, you want us to be friendly with baby eating atheists? ;o)

  • David Lester

    You guys still have a hard time accepting Hitler was an atheist. Of course he courted the support of the Catholic Church, that’s without question. How else was this diabolical, atheist con-artist going to influence the German Catholic majority? Hitler had the ideology; the Catholic Church had the power base. What better combination could you have for world domination! Yes, Hitler, the ‘Pope’ of atheism, with his atheistic belief in the voodoo-scientific theory of evolution, which everyone knows teaches “survival of the fittest”, persecuted and murdered Jews, Jehovah’s witnesses, homosexuals, the disabled, and others he deemed ‘unfit’ to live. All in an effort to produce the ‘perfect’ Aryan race. Atheism breeds ignorance, which breeds intolerance, which breeds violence. I hold Jen’s fascist, hysterical comments as an example of how censure and violence pervades the atheist dogma.

    Mr Wade, so you don’t want non-blood medical treatment that runs no risk whatsoever of picking up life-threatening infectious diseases, that’s okay. But I hope you never suffer serious blood loss. Perhaps you have accepted a blood transfusion, I don’t know. But will you play ‘Russian Roulette’ with your life and risk contracting AIDS, CJD, Malaria, Cancer, Hepatitis C or other bloodbourne pathogens? What would you like to risk shortening your life with? A bit of AIDS perhaps? Or maybe you would like cancer of the liver, or kidney failure? Don’t worry about me, I get the BEST treatment; non-blood volume expanders, treatment that doesn’t involve anybody’s blood, and doesn’t run any risk of contracting any lethal infectious diseases. Let me educate you; there is saline solution, (the most simplest and inexpensive solution) dextran, Haemaccel, and lactated Ringer’s solution. Hetastarch (HES) is a newer volume expander, and according to ‘Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation’: “can be safely recommended for burns patients who object to blood products.” At least now, if you do contract a life threatening disease from a blood transfusion, you won’t die of ignorance. And by the way, yes I did lose a lot of blood once in an accident. I was given a non-blood volume expander without any problem. The hospital and its staff were excellent. Associates of mine have also undergone serious open heart by-pass surgery, joint replacement surgery; one individual had a liver transplant all using non-blood volume expanders. Believe it or not Mr Wade, but people sometimes do die on the operating table or when they’ve lost a lot of blood, with or without a blood transfusion. But of course, most importantly for myself and my friends, we all remain faithful to the God we believe in, even if we were to die.

    Your final paragraph is a scream. Are you really trying to tell me that you are unaware of the spread of AIDS through blood transfusions? This is a point of fact so well documented I didn’t bother making any specific references. Surely you can’t be that ignorant! Try looking at africaaction.org which contains a report from the W.H.O. in which they estimate that for Africa, HIV is transmitted to a minimum of 500,000 people per year through unsafe medical injections and blood transfusions. And in one province in China, during the 1990’s, as many as 1,000,000 or more people were infected with HIV through blood selling practices. There’s more statistics at onemillionafricanlives.org/critical. “In Sub-Sahara Africa, 24.5 million people live with HIV. As many as 10% of these people contracted the disease from infected blood during blood transfusions.” Do the math Mr Wade- that’s 2,450,000 lives destroyed by blood transfusions. On a final note, does donating blood make you feel superior? Have I offended your self-righteous bigotry by refusing your miracle blood? Are you some sort of self-appointed Messiah? What do you care whether someone lives or dies anyway? You’re an atheist, one who believes in natural selection, “survival of the fittest”. Why interfere with the natural selection process? It’s very unusual to find an atheist who wants to help people in need, or finds ‘joy’ in doing so. You sound more like an agnostic than an atheist. You appear a little mixed up there. Does the issue of Gods existence still bother you? Are you trying to get in touch with your spiritual side by helping people? It is a fact that everyone has a spiritual need, it’s just that some either have difficulty finding it or they suppress it for some reason. Did you have a bad childhood? Were you neglected or abused? Did mom or dad never hug you? Did one or both of your parents die when you were young? On the other hand, I guess your quest to preserve life in the way you see fit, and the atheist dogma you follow is probably because you believe the mortal existence you live now, is the only experience of life you’ll ever have.

  • Mriana

    David, you are blowing the blood thing way out of proportion. They test the blood for all those things before giving it to a person. I know this because my son donates blood and if it had not been for him, I might not have my aunt today. I don’t know for certain it was his blood, but she might not have been so lucky. So, I’m grateful for blood transfusions and that my son is able to donate.

  • cautious

    I’ve been giving blood, on and off, for …9 years now? That I’m able to help out my fellow human beings through something so simple is great.

    What’s pathetic is when not nearly enough of my fellow human beings are willing to make a temporary sacrifice for the betterment of others less fortunate.

    And what’s disgusting is when people wrap up their self-absorption and unwillingness to help others in a cloak of religiously-inspired self-righteousness.

    ~5 million people a year in this country get blood transfusions. Many of those blood transfusions save lives in an actual, verifiable way. As opposed to…how many people is it a year whose lives are saved by the Jehovah’s Witness cult?

  • Jen

    I hold Jen’s fascist, hysterical comments as an example of how censure and violence pervades the atheist dogma.

    Because I said this

    4. Davis Lester, you mentioned Hitler in your very first post on this site, Congrats, you are full of fail. Hermant, can you make first-time posters sign something saying they won’t give us these damn atheist bingos before they post? Pretty please?

    I hold that you, as a vistor to this blog, failed to read a single other post before trying to cover ground we have already covered dozens and dozens of times. I neither threatened you with violence nor asked Hermant to remove you from the site, so I do not see how I offering either violence or censure. I also don’t see how this makes me “hysterical” and I have a hunch you wouldn’t have used that word to describe a male poster. And do you really, in your heart of hearts, think I am a fascist? That is just dumb.

  • Siamang

    You’re an atheist, one who believes in natural selection, “survival of the fittest”. Why interfere with the natural selection process? It’s very unusual to find an atheist who wants to help people in need, or finds ‘joy’ in doing so.

    Not that trope.

    Stick around, you might learn something about atheists, David Lester.

    Also, you might learn something about science, such as the fact that “survival of the fittest” doesn’t mean “kill the weak.” In human society, it means the opposite. For humanity to survive as a species, a surplus of social generosity is required.

    Is it REALLY unusual to find an atheist who wants to help people? The atheists I know are loving, giving, generous, thoughtful human beings. How many atheists do you personally know, David Lester?

    On a final note, does donating blood make you feel superior? Have I offended your self-righteous bigotry by refusing your miracle blood? Are you some sort of self-appointed Messiah?

    Who peed in your cornflakes? Why are you being such a jerk?

    Did you have a bad childhood? Were you neglected or abused? Did mom or dad never hug you? Did one or both of your parents die when you were young?

    SOB…. you’re gonna make me cry….

    Give it a rest, kiddo. You’re coming off like a big fat jerk. You’re not convincing anyone being like this… are you at least enjoying showing everyone your jerkiness?

  • Richard Wade

    David Lester, you have many misconceptions about atheists. You will gain much more accurate knowledge about people if you ask them about what they think, feel and do rather than tell them what they think, feel and do.

    For instance, your attempt at psychoanalyzing my motives is entirely wrong in every detail, and seems more intended to insult rather than to express an understanding. I will not respond with similar insults to you because I am more interested in positive dialogue than fruitless invective. If as an atheist my motives for wanting to help people are a puzzlement to you then you should consider that your assumptions about atheists, in particular that we are selfish and incapable of altruistic feelings and acts, are simply incorrect. I suspect that you have been told such things by others, but here you are in the company of several atheists who do not fit those stereotypes at all. Consider that you could be wrong. You have nothing to lose but a barrier that separates you from other people. Your faith in God will not be threatened if you find that your beliefs about atheists are not correct.

    You are not alone. Many people of faith visit this site and a few of them assume all the awful things about atheists that you have described. It’s not entirely their fault; they were taught these stereotypes by others whom they trusted. Those who have the courage and the quality of fairness to stick around and get to know us by asking rather than telling come away with their faith intact and their bigotry removed, and we are all the better for it.

    If you persist in making inflammatory personal remarks about people here, then of course eventually someone will get impatient and will respond with a barrage of insults. There have been a few visitors who were so invested in keeping their prejudices that they worked hard to provoke anger, and when an atheist finally succumbed and flew into them, they left, satisfied that their bias had been confirmed. I hope that you are above such an immature and transparent tactic as that, and that we can get to know you, and you us, on a level ground of respect.

  • Darryl

    Wow, I haven’t encountered such dickishness as Mr. Lester’s in years–ever since I left that whacky training ground for losers and misanthropes called a ‘Bible College.’ It’s one thing to be committed to the belief of your choice, and to enjoin a good verbal joust, but to be a dick for dick’s sake–especially to the nice people of this site–well, that’s downright uncalled-for.

  • http://www.dannyhaszard.com Daniel Haszard

    Many Jehovah’s Witnesses men,women and children die every year worldwide due to blood transfusion ban.Rank & file Jehovah’s Witness are indoctrinated to be scared to death of blood.

    If you take ‘whole-blood’ or autologous (use your own stored blood) you will be shunned by your family and friends.The Watchtower organization is in control of your life. I don’t want someone else’s blood in me anymore that I would want their other body parts heart,kidney,liver unless I needed a lifesaving transplant so goes the same with EMERGENCY blood transfusions.

    Blood issue at a glance: The Watchtower leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses say NO blood, BUT they actually DO ALLOW some blood “fractions”.

    Problem is this variance is so esoteric complicated that by the time special elders appear in the ER with the rule book, the JW patient is at the point of no return,bleeding to death.
    NOW,they blame the hospital staff for not having a “cell saver” machine instead of the Watchtower leaders who are responsible for making the rules.

    I was born a 3rd generation Jehovah’s Witness in 1957 and endured the Watchtower’s no blood commandment with longstanding bleeding Crohn’s disease.The Watchtower leadership expects followers to die for their dogma and many have.The medical staff get blamed and are ‘damned if they do damned if they don’t’.

    In 20 years there will be artificial blood for anyone who chooses it,putting an end to this drama.

    I am Danny Haszard a real lifelong JW with a scary 28 year chronic bleeding disease who “took his stand on blood” and refused it countless times

    http://www.towertotruth.net/Articles/blood_transfusions.htm Will you die for a lie?


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