Jehovah's witnesses and blood transfusion

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658 Posts

Jamie  ·  24 Jul 2014

It doesn't matter if there are problems with blood transfusions, there are risks with all procedures. It's been discussed here before. If you want to refuse a blood transfusion, fine. But if a surgeon recommends one for a child, a parent cannot refuse. Simple as that. I don't think JW's disfellow children for that anymore, but I could be wrong. 

 

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Frank R Nicholas770  ·  22 Jul 2014

Blood transfusion, to the Witnesses,  is a religious matter and they don't expect all to agree with them.

But look at the following site for the myriad of medical problems associated with tranfusions : http://jwitness.wordpress.com/?s=blood

Hope you enjoy the info Laughing

 

1,850 Posts

JamesH  ·  14 Mar 2012

Gav You are of course correct in saying that blood transfusions like all medical treatments has potential risks. Every single medical treatment is constantly weighting up the potential benefits versus the risks and it is that process that is called informed consent. You are also correct when you say that the move is away from transfusions and hopefully at some in our future we will not need them. However at this point in time the general consensus in the medical world is that there are situations where transfusions are beneficial, for example traumatic bleeding. You may be surprised to hear that there are consultant level doctors who specialise in this very area and are qualified experts with years of research and experience, so we do not need your patronising remarks about doctors not cottoning on. What you do not seem to have cottoned onto is that all the so-called studies that you refer to are available to the JWs in their endless court cases and are used, and yet the case almost invariability goes against the JWs, This coupled with the fact that the vast majority of doctors support the use of transfusions in certain circumstances, must surely tell you something.

 

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buzz  ·  14 Mar 2012

Gav the point is, just because a couple are capable of creating a child does not mean they are qualified to make medical decisions for their child. Last I checked, gestating and giving birth to a child (or, in the fathers case, being a sperm donor for one night) does not entitle you to put the letters M and D after your name).They may be legal guardians but they do not own the child. The child is a person in his or her own right, and as such, deserves access to the best medical treatment that his or her medical practitioner can provide. If parents are batty enough to deprive their child of sound medical treatment because of some pie in the sky belief system, is it moral to let the child's health suffer? Let there be no mistake by the way that JW's do not ban the use of blood products because they have witnessed the ill effects of said products. They ban them because they believe it goes against their religion, and the side effects are a mere convenient crutch to be used in their argument. As far as I am concerned, religion has NO place in the medical world, and that goes for all religion, not just JW's.

 

106 Posts

GavMc  ·  13 Mar 2012

Jamie, Buzz I think you are misreading what I said. I was contrasting The parents having to live with Doctors choices, especially in cases where the doctors decision is forced on the parents against their 'informed choice', it is not the doctors who live with the outcome if it is bad. I do think the negitive side of blood transfusion is relevent especially when other treatments that have proven as effective (or more so) as blood transfusion are known and available. All the actual studies that are published show the overall outcomes in elective surgery are better without blood then with it. Sadly many doctors have not yet cottoned on to this fact as they are often relying on what they were taught my years ago as 'best practice' or are just emotionally attached to the notion that the media have propagaed that 'blood saves lives' without looking at the figures of how blood has cost lives. I was reading a comment from a world leading authority on blood transfuson recently, she runs a very large blood bank in the USA and she commented on how from the mid 1980's to the mid 1990's there was a hugh reduction in blood transfusions given because dotors believed the blood supply was not safe (due mainly to HIV transmission in blood) and yet all the studies show the there were no extra fatalities due to the massivly reduced use of blood transfusions!.  

 

658 Posts

Jamie  ·  13 Mar 2012

I completely agree with Buzz and James here. Gav, surely you can see that the idea that the family make "informed choices" on medical care for their children is crazy! The idea that I might need heart surgery, and rather than the surgeon do what's needed, my mother tells him what to do is probably the stupidest idea I've read on the internet. And if a problem crops up, the surgeon has to consult my mam!

 

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buzz  ·  13 Mar 2012

"This really is an issue much broader then JWs its about family's making informed choices and remember its the family that have to live with the outcome no matter what."

Gav, not the "family", the child. It is the child who has to live with the consequences (or perhaps, not live), if the parents were to have their way.

Your reference to Hepatitis is really not relevant here. "Dont have a life saving transfusion in case you contract hepatitis...dont leave the burning building in case you get hit by a car when you leave..."

 

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buzz  ·  12 Mar 2012

Gav, the parents left the hospital with no choice but to take the case.

 

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JamesH  ·  12 Mar 2012

GavMc, It is incorrect to say that the hospital arbitrarily went to court on this issue. The hospital has an onus to act in the best interest of the child and this is not an arbitrary obligation. You are correct that an adult can hold a view about whether or not to take a medical treatment and can refuse treatment for any reason including an irrational reason based on religion. The patient must demonstrate to the doctors that they understand the treatment, and they understand the risk and you are correct that the doctors must provide the relevant information putting in context the risk and the impact of not taking treatment. Only then is the patient in a position to make an informed choice to consent or to refuse treatment. However, when it comes to children the hospital and the courts have the absolute obligation to protect the best interest of the child and both sides have the opportunity to provide as much medical evidence to prove their case. There have been many landmark cases in relation to this issue (Fitzpartick versus K 2008 is one of the Irish reference cases) and interesting almost invariably JWs loose the case. Ever wonder why that is.

 

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Jamie  ·  12 Mar 2012

GavMc, your argument that doctors don't know what they're doing doesn't hold much water. We should test it, have 2 groups of 1000 seriously ill people. One won't see a doctor or go to hospital, the other will. Now, which group will have the highest survival rate? Of course doctors know best, that's why we go to them when we're sick. This is basic. If there's complications with the precedure and the doctors need to give a transfusion, should they let the child die, or should they give the transfusion? The argument that they might get hiv is pointless too. Why get any treatment ever if you might suffer from side effects? When the alternative is death, it's a chance worth taking

 

106 Posts

GavMc  ·  09 Mar 2012

Buzz it was not the Father and the Mother of the child that decided to go to court it was the hospital administration. The hospital in a very paternalistic way decided that they 'knew' whats best (which has often proven wrong, so the well known saying 'doctors differ and patients die') and arbitrarily went to court, so costing the family money to simply explain their prefeectly reasonable stand in that they believe other well proven medical treatment would be holistically better then giving their child blood. This really is an issue much broader then JWs its about family's making informed choices and remember its the family that have to live with the outcome no matter what. Also remember here in Ireland thousands of people have been dramatically injured and hundreds even died in the last ten to twenty years due to getting blood transfusions and contracting Hepatitis C and HIV infection and who knows how many have surffered becase of mistakes in matching correctly and having their immune systems impaired. So this blood transfusion issue is not as black and white as is often made out by the medical authorities and the media.

 

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buzz  ·  09 Mar 2012

I can't believe they made each side pay their own legal costs. The JW's should have been liable for the full amount, it was their refusal to accept proper medical treatment for their child that resulted in the court case.

 

658 Posts

Jamie  ·  08 Mar 2012

Another court order against a JW: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0221/1224312116280.html A THREE-year-old boy may be given a blood transfusion during surgery if necessary despite objections from his parents, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, the president of the High Court has ruled. The child, who cannot be named by order of the court, needs to have his tonsils out because of recurring infections and because it is delaying development of speech. The boy’s father told the court yesterday that he and his wife wanted their son to get the best medical treatment but there was a core belief that blood “is not to be taken to the body”. A consultant treating the child said in an affidavit there was a risk of death and brain damage if the hospital was not in a position to administer any transfusion. The court heard the child required a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy and grommet insertion (to deal with a build-up of fluid in the middle ear) because, apart from infections, he has also suffered some hearing loss. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, Eileen Barrington SC, for the hospital, said. Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns granted the hospital an order permitting a transfusion to be given if necessary. The child’s GP had indicated he had four episodes of infection in the last four months and required antibiotics, which was obviously to the distress of his parents, the judge said. He was satisfied the hospital would, to the greatest extent possible, refrain from giving the transfusion and any transfusion would happen only after a review by a senior consultant. The child was referred to the hospital last year and his consultant decided last month he required surgery but the parents were not happy to proceed, Ms Barrington said. Given the history of infection and the delay in the child’s speech development, it had been decided to carry out the operation tomorrow. Mr Justice Kearns said he appreciated the way in which the hospital approached the matter and showed great respect for the parents’ religion. He also complimented the parents for the courteous and dignified manner in which they had put their views and made no order on costs of the application, meaning each side pays its own.

 

28 Posts

ICeltic  ·  13 Dec 2011

"It is up to the conscience of each individual whether to permit a blood transfusion or not", Arthur Matthews of the Jehovah's witnesses in Ireland told irishhealth.com.

That, of course, is untrue. It has been established in a court of law (the Walsh case in Scotland 1956 ((I think it was 56)) ) by F Franz, who at the time was vice president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society that all Jehovahs Witnesses had to believe all teachings of the Watchtower otherwise they would be disfellowshipped. 

Maybe what Arthur Matthews meant was a JW can decide to take blood if he so desires but will not remain one of Jehovah's Witnesses and will be, as far as JWs and their organisation are concerned, condemned to death unless he/she begs forgiveness. And even then he/she may still not be allowed back if the elders dealing with such a person considers them not to be sorry enough. 

Saying it is up to the individual JW is like saying its your choice whether or not to commit murder.

 

658 Posts

Jamie  ·  26 Jul 2011

I definitely don't think religion should be banned. That's a backwards step that you'd expect in a country like North Korea.

 

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JamesH  ·  01 Mar 2011

Bill of course you are correct when you say that Ireland can only legislate for Ireland. However, my point re the 3 or 4 billion people, is that if all countries created the law that you so desperately seek and if we follow logic that it would have to apply in principal to all religions on the basis that all religions are irrational and unscientific then if all countries implemented your law if would mean that 3 or 4 billion people worldwide could be given medical treatment against their will for their own good. If you refuse to engage with my point re Action T4, does the ghost of Dr Neary ever at all cross you mind. Dr Neary firmly believed he saved women's lives and he did what he did for their own good.

 

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JamesH  ·  01 Mar 2011

It is not a matter of what I think it right. It is a matter that all western societies think is right and have signed up to in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. You may not like it, but that is the reality. It is insulting and a further display of arrogance to use terms such as pathetic, low IQ and disadvantaged in reference to people who have a religion. In one sentence you arrogantly put yourself above 3 or 4 billion people worldwide. This of course fits in with your attitude that for some reason you think that your point of view is better than all the western societies. You still have not explained why no western society has the law that you wish for. Laws against forced marriage or female circumcision are of course based on human right and are to be lauded. However the law that you wish is to forcibly remove the human right to self-determination, which is upheld in all western societies for a very good reason. You still steadfastedly refuse to engage with my point about the Action T4. Why is this? Please define cult legally such that it is clearly distinguishable from say being a Catholic. Please explain why based on principal you do not want this law to apply to all religions. What if a life-saving treatment was devised that was based on embryonic tissue and hypothetically a Catholic refused the treatment, because it was against their morals and partially because it was against the catholic religion, would you feel at liberty to force-medicate this person also for their own good. The principal is the same as the JW case and laws are based on principals and not picking on somebody because of their religion. Are you refusing me the right to refuse life-saving treatment for a curable cancer, because I think my life would be better without two years of misery receiving the treatment? The principal of consent is paramount in medicine as is the principal of self-determination. No I am not a JW and no I am not forcing you to repeat yourself, you are doing that yourself in your effort to avoid issues so as Action T4 and you refusal to address why no western society has the law that you seek.

 

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Bill  ·  01 Mar 2011

The Irish cannot make laws for the “3 billion” religious people, we can only make laws for ourselves. If the Catholic Church had enough power over the people of Ireland and stopped them getting medical treatment that would save their lives then of course the law would also apply to them. Fortunately the vast majority of Catholics ignore their churches teaching on health matters.

I might add that another dangerous cult, the Scientologists; try to dissuade their members to stop taking life saving medical treatment for depression. No doubt you think that’s their right too?

I don’t accept “people’s right to have religion” should override other rights. It’s common that any law is dependent on some other law. People don’t have a religion; they are overwhelmingly of the religion of their parents. Therefore there must be some brainwashing going on. Brainwashing of children should not be tolerated. In France there is no religion in schools and only a tiny percentage of the French (excluding immigrants) are now religious.

Laws limiting the edicts of religion do exist; forced marriage, female circumcision, face masks on women, gay rights laws, employment laws etc. I just want another one to save people’s lives. Are you opposed to saving people’s lives? Do you think we should have a philosophical discussion and then for some nebulous interpretation of “human rights” allow pathetic, brain washed, low IQ, disadvantaged people die?

I don’t think I have the right to save someone’s life but the people of Ireland do if they so choose.  That’s democracy. This law would require say two doctors and a judge to decide that the person was refusing medical treatment because of their control by a cult. That provision would protect people's rights.

You are continuing to repeat yourself and force me to do the same. Are you sure you are not a JW in disguise trying to flood this thread. It is a bit odd no JW has written here in some time. 

 

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JamesH  ·  28 Feb 2011

Bill,

 

You are correct, you make your points with good clarity and I do understand them. However the reason we tend to go around in circles is your refusal to engage in the points that I have repeatedly made.

 

 

For instance one of my points is that by logic you must apply your sought-after law to all religions. You yourself have just acknowledged the difficulty of trying to draft laws that can distinguish between sects or cults and the more main-stream religions. Therefore in order to get the law that you want it could only be by applying it to all religions. As you have previously said all religion is ultimately irrational and unscientific and I have not disagreed with that as it is a self-evident fact. So really I can see no reason why you do not want to apply your law to all religions and you have been able to give no reason. Of course the difficulty for you in applying this logic is that it must then apply to at least 3 plus billion of the world’s population and it seems even you tacitly see the difficulty in that.

 

 

Another example is that I have several times referred you to the Action T4 from which the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was derived. Action T4 is the classic modern example of what can happen when people rights are trampled on. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Nuremberg code were modern western societies method to try to prevent something like Action T4 ever happening again. They protected people’s rights to have a religion and also that their consent was required. In short they protected people’s right to self-determination. You have steadfastedly refused to address the Action T4.

 

 

Also you have refused to speculate why no modern western society upholds the values that you extol and why no modern western society has the law that you wish for. I have given you the reasons above. Yet for some reason you believe such a law is possible. Please explain why it exists nowhere.

 

 

Regarding the refusal of life-saving medical treatment. Please don’t put words in my mouth. I was not necessarily talking about a terminally ill person with a short time to live. In all modern societies, I have the right to refuse life-saving treatment, even if the treatment will give me a very good chance of living and being cured and even if without it I stand a high chance of dying. I have the right to decide that I don’t want to spend the next two years being miserable while I am being treated for a curable cancer, and that instead I will live as full a life as possible. In fact I have the right to refuse treatment without giving any reason. The only thing that I must prove to the satisfaction of the doctor is that I understand the implications of my decision. That is what is called self-determination and it is a value held high in all modern societies. Otherwise you could be on the slippy road to an Action T4 scenario where a few doctors and judges have the right to decide to force-medicate 3 or 4 billion people against their will. What makes you think you have the right to make that decision?

 

 

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Bill  ·  28 Feb 2011

I have made my points clearly enough. I am averse to having to repeat myself. No law and no doctor would force treatment on a dying person who rightly refused it because he would die anyway and it wasn’t worth the pain to live a few days, weeks longer etc. That’s not what I am talking about so your questions/points are totally irrelevant.

I’ve already pointed out that laws are being made to control the actions of sects. I also pointed out the difficulties some years ago when laws were discussed to control cults because they might also control the Catholic, or main stream nonsense as you called it.

If a person is judged by a doctor (or say two doctors) and a judge to be under the influence of a cult and as a judge famously said, “I can’t define pornography but I know it when I see it”, they should be able to force treatment on such a person. I do believe that such a law is possible.

It is not ethical to allow someone who is not an intellectual to die young and healthy for intellectual reasons.

 

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JamesH  ·  28 Feb 2011

Bill, Ok thank you for the clarity. You are willing to deny me the right to refuse life-saving treatment even if I understand that my actions may be putting my life at risk. The reasons for refusing medical treatment are many and include that I may not be willing to risk the potential side-effects that all drugs have, that I may prefer to live the reminder of my life as fully as possible without being confined to a hospital bed. I assume that you would be ok with those two reasons for refusing treatment. Another reason might be that I may not agree with the moral ethics of a treatment, for example if the treatment used embryonic material, it might hypothetically go against me personal morals. I would hope that you would allow me to refuse treatment on that basis. As I have said the Universal Declaration on Human rights that is signed up to by all western democracies gives us the right to have a religion. In the debate that we are having, we are all allowed to have a religion by right, and we are therefore allowed to refuse treatment on that basis. In refusing treatment we must be able to display that we understand the possible risks we are facing. Doctors will go to court in cases where they believe the person does not understand and therefore who do not have the capacity to refuse or provide consent and this is what happened in the K case that you like so much. You must realise that you will never get the law that you are looking for and you must in your heart realise that there is a reason that such a law does not exist anywhere in the western world. For a start your law would be impossible to write because it would be impossible to legally define a religious cult in such a way to distinguish it from a main stream religion. So therefore your law would have to encompass all religions. There are approx 2 billion Christians in the world and approx 1.5 billion Muslins to mention just the two biggest. You want doctors to have the right to force-medicate all these people for their own good against their wishes. Don't you realise that the main reason for the Universal Declaration on Human rights is to try and learn from the mistakes of human history. Have you even bothered to look up Action T4 to see where your logic can lead and why western society has deliberately gone about ensuring that your law will never be enacted. It will never be enacted not for religious reasons, but for the fundamental human right of self-determination. Likewise so long as I understand that sky-diving can potentially be life-threatening, I have the right to sky-dive to get an adrenaline rush even if you think that is irrational.

 

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Bill  ·  25 Feb 2011

I would like to see a law enacted that gave doctors the right to petition the courts if in their opinion that a person urgently needed a life saving medical intervention and that they were of an age and health condition that warranted such an intervention and that the person was refusing on the basis that they had been indoctrinated by a religious cult. If a judge agreed then they could carry out the procedure.

I’ve said that several times. 

 

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JamesH  ·  25 Feb 2011

Bill, Can you answer one simple question that goes to the heart of our little debate. Do I, in your opinion, have the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment, if I understand that my life may be in danger if I refuse? The question requires at a minimum a Yes or No answer without any evasion. I note your evasive and diversionary tactics that any JW would be proud of.

 

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JamesH  ·  23 Feb 2011

Bill, Case law is just as relevant to the legal system as any legislation. That is how the legal system works. Justice Laffoys judgement quotes many international cases and is in line with the western world in general. What exact problem have you with the K case Laffoy judgement; as it seemed to give you what you want in giving an adult JW a blood transfusion against their will. I repeat that there is nowhere in the western world that gives a blanket authority to give blood transfusions to all adult JWs against their will. The reason as I have repeatedly said is to do with the fundamental principle of the right to self-determination. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights asserts our right to religion. The Nuremberg code asserts our right that our consent is required. Both of these documents are the main sources for human rights all over the western world. These arose out of the Action T4 which you have refused to comment on. Action T4 illustrates very clearly where we can end up once we start to flaunt our right to self-determination and to allow doctors to do as they see fit for our own good. There is a reason why you are at odds with the entire western world on this issue, but you would rather trample on peoples fundamental rights for their own good. If as you accept you are at odds with all modern societies on such a fundamental issue you may be more comfortable living in or indeed setting up a dictatorship yourself. I am not disagreeing with you that to be religious is irrational, as clearly that is a fact. The principal of consent is all-encompassing i.e. it cannot be specific to blood transfusion to JWs, it must be a universal principal. Therefore if a JW does not have the capacity to refuse treatment, because they are JWs and therefore irrational the same must apply to all religions. As I have already explained consent covers both refusal and acceptance of medical treatment. Therefore by your logic any religious person does not have the capacity to provide consent to accept or refuse treatment (because they are irrational) Therefore all religious people can be given any medication that a doctor feels is for their own good against their will. You are now into territory where a couple of billion people of the six billion on earth can be given medical treatment against their will. You are now into the Action T4 territory that modern society decided should never be allowed to happen again and why the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was drawn up and signed by all modern societies. Please address the Action T4. Re your French connection, in the K case coercion was a factor as a JW sister-in-law was seen as having an undue influence of K; so the Laffoy judgement does take account of coercion. Oh by the way you are being as manipulative with language as any JW with you childish pedantics re my referring to doctors getting god-like status. You do not have to believe in any god to understand what god-like means.

 

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Bill  ·  23 Feb 2011

I am not interested in depending on Justice Laffoy or any other judge. I want a specific law, not an interpretation of the law, to stop those who have been mentally impaired by religious cults to be protected from themselves. Anyone who believes in the list of nonsensical claims made by the JWs is seriously deluded and has lost their grip on reality. The world is not 6,000 years old, life evolved, the world is not about to end and didn’t end all the other times Christians claimed it would, etc.

Refusing a blood transfusion after a major haemorrhage IS committing suicide. What’s the difference? You are contradicting yourself. You either oppose suicide or you do not. You can hardly claim that a healthy adult who suffers a trauma that requires a blood transfusion and refuses it and dies based on the 19th century interpretation by one man of a collection of contradictory essays written by primitives is rational do you? Seriously do you? If you do you do not understand what the word rational means.

There is no need to extend forced medication to all religious people as all religious people do not want to commit suicide. You ignored my point re fluoridation though.

All religious people ARE irrational btw or they wouldn’t be religious. I don’t care if there is no “modern society” that doesn’t agree with me, that doesn’t make me wrong. At present most societies are still heavily influenced by some devious religion or other and when they no longer are then there is a good chance that dangerous, mind warping cults will be controlled, limited and effectively banned. You ignore the points I made about France, which is undoubtedly a “modern society”.

JW’s morals (meaning their opposition to blood transfusions) are not their own otherwise it would be an incredible co-incidence, they are derived from their membership of a cult.

There are no gods, therefore a “god-like status” means nothing whatsoever.

 

 

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JamesH  ·  22 Feb 2011

Bill, I have already explained that her life was saved not because she just had a baby. Her life was saved because she did not meet the requirements laid down by Justice Laffoy to have the capacity to provide consent. Any other adult with or without a baby can be given medical treatment against their will providing the legal test for capacity set in the K case by Justice Laffoy is met. Yes I agree that the mass suicide should be prevented if it was possible. Suicide is quite different to refusing a blood transfusion or any other medical treatment. Have you looked up Action T4 to see where your logic can ultimately lead? Still waiting on you to answer me why you would not extend your forced medication on all religious people as this is the logical conclusion of your train of thought, after all, all religious people are unscientific and irrational. You seem to be in favour of giving medical treatment to everyone against their will provided it is for their own good. Modern society started moving away from this stance in the 50s or 60s. The modern view of consent is to respect the right of self-determination. There is no modern western society that upholds your ideals at this point in time. People have the right to decide and choose. Paradoxically there is more to life than living. A particular medical treatment may prolong my life but at a cost to the quality of my life or to my morals and I have the right to refuse that treatment. The problem with the doctor knowing what is best for me, is that this then puts them in a god-like status which takes away my right to self-determination.

 

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Bill  ·  22 Feb 2011

 

James, I have answered these points, but to clarify. The K case, if we referring to the same case, refers to a JW who just had a baby. Both of us agree she should have had a transfusion BUT why should her life be saved JUST BECAUSE she had a baby? If some other brainwashed person was about to die, doctors should be able to apply to court AND under a law that I am proposing, they could allow doctors to save her life even against her wishes. You do agree suicide (of healthy people) should be unlawful?

There was a religious cult who committed mass suicide in Switzerland some years ago because they were brain washed into believing that if they did they would transfer to a passing comet. I kid you not. Should doctors/police have stopped them? Please answer this specific question. Refusing a transfusion and as a result dying is suicide. The philosophical argument is irrelevant.

To some extent we do force mass medication with water fluoridation and the fortification of bread with vitamins etc. (I also think the law should be tightened on forced vaccination of children as well btw. Why should some unfortunate defenceless child, a citizen of the state, become sterile, deaf or even die because they are unlucky to have stupid ignorant parents?) There are laws that control people where their health is seriously affected, e.g. anti-smoking laws, control on alcohol consumption etc. Without doubt more of these laws will be enacted.


 

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JamesH  ·  22 Feb 2011

Bill, You say that there should be a law that allows the doctors to go to court and get the court's permission to save their lives. For some strange reason you do not seem to understand that there is a law as set down in the K case and at least one adult JW has been given a transfusion against their will. This law was set down following a very complex court case with much medical evidence debated. The argument can be won purely on the basis of medical evidence and specific rules on determining whether a person has capacity to provide consent. However, there cannot and will never be a blanket law that says if you are a JW a doctor can give you any medical treatment without your consent. No such law exists anywhere in the modern western world. The law on consent will always allow for self-determination where possible. The law at this point allows you to be irrational so long as you understand that you are being irrational. The world is full of irrationality. The world is full of people who eat too much, drink too much, do not exercise enough, skydive, climb dangerous mountains and cycle to work, all in the knowledge that there are serious health-risks to all of these things. You haven't answered my question about whether you would force-medicate all religious people on the basis that they are unscientific and therefore are irrational and not competent to provide a valid consent or refusal. By the way, your contention that JWs are not competent to refuse medical treatment has a corollary that you may not be aware of. The principal of consent is a two-way street. If as you wish a JW does not have the capacity to refuse medical treatment because they are irrational, then by default they also do not have the capacity to provide consent to accept any medical treatment either. This of course would be totally impractical, whereas the rules as laid down by Justice Laffoy can be applied on a case-by-case basis by the doctor. Blanket bans rarely work well in life when it comes to complex matters relating to the very core of being human, ie the right to self-determination. A much more nuanced approach is needed for a complex matter such as consent.

 

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Bill  ·  21 Feb 2011

James, “even if their main motivation is their interpretation of the bible”. It is not their “main” motivation, it is their only motivation.

I have made as many points on this as are necessary and don’t want to repeat myself but the JWs do not believe in Science at all. They believe in magic, miracles, spirits and base all their beliefs on their interpretation of the bible. That is why the science is irrelevant to them.

If a doctor knows that someone may die and that they belong to a cult that has them brain washed into believing that they should not be treated, there should be a law that allows the doctors to go to court and get the court’s permission to save their lives. That’s only Christian....:)

 

1,850 Posts

JamesH  ·  21 Feb 2011

Bill, From your messages I had understood that you wanted to be able to medicate JWs against their will, simply because they were JWs and so in your opinion demonstrated that they were not competent to provide consent. It is because you are willing to flaunt an individuals right to self-determination that seemed to point to dictatorship. This is the first I heard that you wanted to ban cults. Bill it is clear what your views on religion are and I am not is dispute with you on these views. I am curious why you would not advocate the same forced medication on more main-stream religions, as after all, your basic premise against religions is that all religions are unscientific and basically superstition. My recurring point has been that in order to win the debate on blood transfusions there is no need to debate the existence of God, you only need to go to the medical evidence. This is exactly what happened in the court case that Jamie referred to and I have referred to this exact court case a number of times. It is ironic that you thank Jamie for referring you to the K case, but constantly bicker with me, even though I have referred you to this case a number of times and told you that an adult JW was given blood transfusions on the basis of the case. As an aside the reason the judge allowed the transfusion was NOT on the basis on the child, Justice Laffoy allowed the transfusion on the basis that the woman did not have capacity to provide consent (and by default did not have the capacity to refuse medical treatment). Justice Laffoy laid down the rules for capacity in this case and these rules broadly follow the rules in all western democracies. These rules will not apply to all JWs. The rules do allow an individual to be irrational, provided they know that they are being irrational, and can demonstrate that they have given the matter due deliberation in the context of the gravity of the situation. You might not like judges setting precedent, but that is part and parcel of all western legal systems, except probably in dictatorships.

 

1,850 Posts

JamesH  ·  21 Feb 2011

Jamie, The case you refer to was appealed and lead to the landmark Justice Laffoy judgement that I referred to (Fitzpatrick v K (HC, 25/4/08, Laffoy J.)). However, this judgement is not so crude as to apply to all JWs. There are rules in the judgement that help determine whether a person has the capacity to consent or not, and the plaintiff (K) did not meet these rules. Bill would like to the law to be able to give all JWs and possibly any religious person medical treatment without consent for their own good. My other main point is that belief or not in God is beside the point. The K case that you refer to was fought and won purely of the medical evidence of the need for a blood transfusion. The JWs produced very complex evidence to support their side, but the medical evidence on the doctors side won the court case on the day. JWs that come on these debates often try to convince us that the science supports them (even if their main motivation is their interpretation of the bible). My point is that regardless of their religious beliefs they are misleading when they say the science supports them in all cases. There are extreme cases for example the K case that you mentioned, where a transfusion is necessary to save life, given our current technology. It does not need a tirade against any religious belief to prove this medical fact; it just needs medical or scientific evidence.

 

1,325 Posts

Bill  ·  21 Feb 2011

Jamie, I wasn’t aware of that case, thanks for alerting me to it, where an adult JW was forced by the law to undergo a transfusion. I completely agree and here we have an example of a very very silly woman’s life being saved.  I strongly suspect that the judge used the existence of the child as an excuse to save the mother. The excuse will not save other brain washed people though. Notice that the unfortunate woman was from the Democratic Republic of Congo. These cults, and of course our own major sect, the Catholics, have been for years brain washing the uneducated of Africa to the point that virtually every Nigerian I have met in Ireland is a fundamentalist Christian religious fanatic. It should be against United Nations protocols for Europeans and Americans to brain wash Africans.

James, your point is daft. If the people of Ireland vote to ban the more nutty cults such as the JWs, Scientologists etc then that is not dictatorship but democracy. The fact that you don’t agree with such a law doesn’t make it dictatorship. I do not want judges being used to “set precedent”, that is undemocratic. The people should make the laws.

I always find it amusing when religious leaders today speak of harassment and undemocratic actions against their religions when for centuries they enslaved people, killed “unbelievers”, burnt witches and condemned all those that didn’t swallow their particular superstitions as doomed. Ireland in the 20’s through to the 60’s, when under the control of the Catholic Church, was hardly a model for an open and free democracy. Only last week in the Irish Times I read an “epistle” from an Irish bishop from the 20’s to “the people” or should I say his flock of sheep, condemning the idea of votes for women. Democracy? Religions hate democracy.

 

1,850 Posts

JamesH  ·  21 Feb 2011

Bill, you are dangerously close to advocating dictatorship. Of course in a democracy you can change the laws. Have you a problem with the Justice Laffoy judgement that defines the current legal situation on defining who has the capacity to consent or not? This judgement has been used to approve blood transfusions against the will of an adult JW. What more do you want? However legal precedent is relevant. Broadly speaking all western democracies have similar consent rules. This counts for something. Your attitude seems to be that once a person is a JW that person must be incompetent to make any decisions on medical treatment and the doctor can do anything they want without consent. Bill, I am afraid that is unacceptable to most people. Maybe you would be more comfortable living in Libya or Bahrain or somewhere like that. Why would you stop at JWs? Maybe you would like this facility for anyone who declares themselves religious; after all belief in the bible is unscientific and therefore anyone who believes must be incompetant. This would allow you to force-medicate a significant proportion of the 6 billion worlds population. You may feel this attitude is ok so long as the medication is for the patient�s own good. However, you seem blind to the dangers of such an attitude, as it is a slippy slope that can only end in catastrophy. Please look up Action T4 to see where your attitude can lead. Self-determination is a fundamental part of any democracy and also the consent process. It needs careful finessed rules to circumvent the basic right to self-determination and not crude blanket rules that say that all JWs or all religious people must loose their right to make medical decisions for themselves.

 

658 Posts

Jamie  ·  21 Feb 2011

There was a case to support Bills argument. http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=10246 This JW woman got a transfusion against her will and was saved because she had a child. She would rather have died than have gotten the life saving treatment from the hospital, leaving her new born son with no one to look after him. If she was from a newly formed cult it would be investigated and the leaders possibly arrested for brainwashing it's members. JW members are thought avoid reading anything negative about it, so keeping their members. Every JW that has come on her has ignored so many questions and points. Their favourite method of argument is the straw man argument. There's plenty of sites with exJW's and their experiences and help on leaving the religion. I doubt they're published in the watchtower. But the members think that the WT just want to "save" their followers by keeping them in. The government should have more support in place for people who leave organisations like this.

 

1,325 Posts

Bill  ·  21 Feb 2011

James, I have already answered your latest post. It’s a repeat of a previous one. WE CAN change the laws, that’s why it’s called a democracy. So legal precedent is not relevant.

Another example where I believe that the state should intervene is to save those from themselves are those who live on the streets and have drug/alcohol/mental health problems. It should be possible to certify them as incompetent and have them forcibly removed, dried out, detoxed and given appropriate treatment so that they do not destroy their lives. Vive la difference my ass. Walking by a hopelessly drunk man living on the street with a live expectancy of maybe 35 years and claiming to be in favour of “life choices” is a cop out. The same cop out that is happening with the UN and the likes of Libya.


I would be interested in any JW explaining to us how they came to be JWs. Were they brought up that way, i.e. brain washed by a fanatical father (when I was about 10 or 12 I was forcibly made kneel down and say the Rosary by my non intellectual father so I’ve been there), or did they join in adulthood and if so what trauma or problems in their lives led them to the JWs.

 

3,037 Posts

buzz  ·  18 Feb 2011

I agree with Bill re the setup of 1y schools. Religion has no place in the classroom.

 

1,850 Posts

JamesH  ·  18 Feb 2011

Bill, in a free democracy you cannot forcibly medically treat a competent adult against their will, and I would assume that this is not what you are advocating, although it does sound dangerously close to it. Wards of court and mental capacity legislation address how to cope with a person without the capacity to consent. I have already referred you to the landmark Irish case that defines how to determine if a person has capacity. Our definition broadly follows precedent in many western countries and Justice Laffoy refers to many international cases in coming to her conclusions. This definition has been used for at least one adult case to prove that the JW was not competent to provide consent and permission was granted to doctors to give the blood transfusion. Bill, the fact is that in a modern society we have the right to be irrational. Viva la difference. My reference to dangerous sports was not all to propose banning them. My point was that to a risk-adverse person sky-diving may appear irrational, but to an adrenaline-junkie skydiving may be the spice of life. Both points of view are valid while at the same time being diametrically opposed. Bill, the minute you step out of bed in the morning, you are facing risks of varying degrees. You cannot ban all risks from your life. Cycling or swimming are very beneficial health-wise, but carry with them a certain risk of death; are you to ban these also.

 

1,325 Posts

Bill  ·  18 Feb 2011

JamesH. Laws can be changed. We could enact a law that says that if say two qualified doctors certified that a medical procedure was necessary to preserve someone’s life and that in their professional opinion the person had been brain washed, coerced,  are come under the control of a cult, the procedure could be carried out against their wishes. Suicide or assisting suicide is illegal. Not accepting life saving treatment can also be suicidal.

Risky sports could be banned if the people wished. This is a democracy. However it’s unlikely that will happen, although I would be in favour of making them pay for any medical treatments brought about by their recklessness.

The education system should contain modules that teach children the Scientific Method and to be sceptical of the claims of religious cults, charlatans, purveyors of snake oil, bogus treatments etc. The bulk of the Irish population are very gullible hence the popularity of Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Homeopathy, “health” supplements, detox kits, copper bracelets,  magnetic insoles etc.

 

1,850 Posts

JamesH  ·  17 Feb 2011

Bill, There is a legal test for whether an adult is competent or not laid down in case law in Ireland (Fitzpatrick v K (HC, 25/4/08, Laffoy J.)). As an aside, in that case the adult JW lost partially because of the presence of a JW sister-in-law. Without getting too stuck into the details, in order to provide a valid consent an adult must understand the treatment information including the consequences likely to ensue from not accepting the treatment, must believe the treatment information including that not accepting the treatment is likely to result in the patient’s death. However, the case also says that in assessing capacity it is necessary to distinguish between misunderstanding or misperception of the treatment information in the decision-making process (which may sometimes be referred to colloquially as irrationality), on the one hand, and an irrational decision or a decision made for irrational reasons, on the other hand. The former may be evidence of lack of capacity. The latter is irrelevant to the assessment. This is the law in Ireland. In layman’s terms this means you are allowed to be irrational, providing you realise you are being irrational. Again, this is a fundamental part of the consent process, which helps protect society from an over-zealous doctor and allows us to have self-determination. Self-determination is a key rationale for the notion of consent. Many aspects of life present risks that some people find unacceptable. For instance I might think that sky-diving or climbing Mount Everest present an irrational unacceptable risk, whereas you might find the adrenaline rush and thrill more than compensates for the risk. As adults we both have the right to make that decision and to consider the other person’s attitude irrational. The same is true for medical treatments. It is a very dangerous road to consider that a doctor can give treatment without consent, providing the doctor thinks it is the right thing to do. You would be going back in time to the old school, where the doctor knows best and the opinion of the patient does not matter. Look up Action T4 to see where flaunting consent can eventually lead.

 

1,325 Posts

Bill  ·  17 Feb 2011

It’s funny that you suggest that I talk to JWs who call to the door. I actually find the idea that I could learn anything whatsoever from a JW as absurd and even arrogant. How could anyone who thinks the world is 6,000 years old, is about to end in Armageddon and that all biologists are idiots for devoting their lives to the study of Evolution, teach me anything?

I once asked two JWs in to watch a recorded TV documentary on Evolution and after a few minutes they left. They were obviously afraid of being taught something that disagreed with their holy book.

Another time I spent a few minutes talking to the 12 year old son of a JW who called to my door and the father took the son away before I could convince him his father was brain washing him. My last comment as they hurried down my driveway was to tell the boy to go to a library and read up Science books for himself. I always hope he listened to me.

By “offshoot of Christianity”, I meant that Islam was a spur off Christianity as Christianity is a spur or evolved from other older religious superstitions. The JW sect is one and only one of the thousands of Christian sects, even though you like everyone else foolishly thinks all the others are wrong and you are right. To the insult of other Christians you call them “Christendom”.

As I already pointed out there is no “Bible”. You use your one and others use a variety of others that evolved over several centuries. A bible doesn’t teach anything, it’s just a pile of primitive, mythical, scientifically ignorant, homophobic, misogynist and nonsensical essays.

This is a health board and some of those brain washed into believing in JW nonsense sometimes die because of their beliefs. That’s grossly immoral.

James H. You said “any competent adult” should be free to choose or not choose medical help. My point is that someone who is feeble minded or brainwashed into believing in Santa Clause is not “a competent adult”. French society now forbids Muslim women from wearing a face mask on the basis that they are often coerced. Are the wives of domineering JWs also coerced into forsaking life saving medical assistance?

 
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