In the UK a high court ruled this week that an infant will be given a life saving blood transfusion despite his parents’ religious objections.
The baby – whose parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses – suffers a complex heart disease with no ”long-term prospect of survival” without cardiac surgery which requires a blood transfusion.
The baby’s parents had agreed to the cardiac surgery but said they could not consent to their son – who is only a few weeks old – receiving a blood transfusion, because of their religious beliefs.
After the parents refused to consent to the transfusion, the hospital brought the case to court, and a judge in the Family Division of the High Court in London ruled that it was in the best interest of the child to overrule the parents and allow the transfusion.
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim “Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood,” and “God views blood as representing life. So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.”
Two weeks ago another High Court judge gave doctors permission not to administer blood transfusions to a 63-year-old woman who was a Jehovah’s Witness.
The woman subsequently died.
Bottom line, the court made two good calls. Parents do not have the right to deny a child life saving medical treatment for any reason, religious or otherwise. While on the other hand, if an adult wishes to refuse medical treatment, for religious reasons or otherwise, that is their right.