CBC News, a TV and radio news outlet in Montreal, Quebec, Canada reported on November 14, 2017, that a coroner’s report confirmed that two Jehovah’s Witness women died in 2016 and within a week of each other due to childbirth complications. Both had refused blood transfusions in accordance with their religious teachings.
Mirlande Cadet and Éloïse Dupuis died from complications related to blood loss after giving birth. Both women were Jehovah’s Witnesses – members of a religion that forbids blood transfusions.
The article describes the circumstances around the deaths of the two women – one just 26 years old and the other in her mid-40s. The coroner was quoted as describing the situation as being “untenable” for the doctors and nurses who were doing everything they could to save the lives of the women and their unborn babies. The article also quotes Dr. Luc Malouin as he illustrates the dilemma that medical staff members find themselves in when the patients or their families essentially choose probable death over highly effective treatment and probable survival.
Miss Dupuis steadfastly stuck to her decision to reject any blood transfusion therapy – in spite of the dangerous situation she and her unborn baby were facing.
“The report outlines at least 10 times where Dupuis, her parents or her partner, acting on her wishes, refused blood transfusions, including once when she told doctors at Hôtel-Dieu she would rather die than receive a blood transfusion.
“Dupuis went into labour Oct. 5 and made her way to the birthing centre. Upon her arrival, she once again stated that she did not want to receive any blood transfusions or blood products on account of her faith.”
Ms. Cadet’s parents managed to convince her husband to approve blood transfusion. Unfortunately, it seems that his decision came too late to save her, but their baby boy was born successfully. Ms. Cadet died several hours after the birth due to respiratory failure.
Current Canadian and Quebec laws protect the patients’ rights to reject certain treatment, even in lifesaving situations as long as the patient “is of sound mind and well informed.”
From our perspective, Jehovah’s Witnesses have not been “well informed” by Watchtower leaders and local Kingdom Hall elders. They want Watchtower believers and followers to live by poorly inspired ancient religious rules that were possibly appropriate to those times and circumstances thousands of years ago. But this is a new age of advanced science and medicine. The benefits of hospitals and medical science were unknown and inconceivable in the days of Moses and Aaron. It would be ironic and disastrous if somehow the Watchtower’s leaders discover – many years later, after thousands of innocent believers have died needlessly – that Jehovah God actually inspired the doctors and medical scientists of the 20th Century to understand blood therapy as His “special blessing upon mankind” – a blessing that could [and would] save thousands of lives.