The Friendly Atheist website [served by Patheos.com] reports that a judge in Montreal, Quebec, Canada may have saved a fourteen-year-old girl’s life. In his decision, Judge Granosik gave the doctors permission to overrule the young girl’s own decision to choose not to accept a potentially life-saving blood transfusion.
The doctors treating her had determined that she needed that specific treatment to counteract the negative effects of chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Why had she put herself in this bizarre situation? She was rejecting the blood transfusion because her Jehovah’s Witness religion prohibits blood transfusions for its members. The doctors could not proceed without a court order. But if they did not try there was little hope for the girl’s survival.
This is another bizarre but true story of the Watchtower and local Jehovah’s Witness elders trying to stop the efforts of medical professionals from saving the life of a young person with scores of relatively healthy years ahead of her.
As the article points out, the idea of someone choosing death over life sounds bizarre to the average person. The simple question they ask is fitting and proper:
“Since when do doctors need a judge’s approval before doing their jobs?”
The article continues:
“The child in question comes from a family of Witnesses and had every intention of following her parents’ lead.
“The girl is a Jehovah’s Witness, as are her parents. She has preached since age 9 and was baptized at age 12 of her own accord and without her parents’ knowledge, the judgment notes.”
The article goes on to point out that this is not an isolated case. But was unique due to the fact that other children and their parents have made the same decision – often with fatal results. Letting a girl of fourteen make a life or death decision could have disastrous consequences for her and her family. The same person living in a different environment or had a few more years of maturity would likely choose (if given the same once in a lifetime opportunity) the chance to survive such a serious illness.
The Friendly Atheist website completes their report with this positive announcement:
Doctors at the McGill University Health Centre believe she has a 97% of recovery with a complete treatment, which includes the possibility of a transfusion if needed, but the girl kept saying that wasn’t an option. The law in Montreal allows 14-year-olds to “refuse certain services,” including transfusions, so doctors had to ask a judge to override her wishes. In their minds, she was a minor, and they had an obligation to take care of her. . . Thankfully, the judge agreed.
In authorizing the transfusions, the tribunal underlined that it is adhering to laws protecting children, “sometimes against their own wishes” when those decisions could prove fatal.
In his judgment, Judge Granosik remarked that the girl speaks of her will to live and her dreams, while at the same time “she speaks of death (as something abstract), without emotion and almost with resignation, in mechanical fashion, like a robot.”
Despite the girl’s insistence, the judge decided in favour of the required care: “The necessity of a blood transfusion must be considered to save the life of X, or to avoid permanent damage to her physical integrity.”
The Friendly Atheist wraps up its story with this comment:
It’s the right decision. If she wants to die when she’s an adult, that’s her business. But for doctors to allow her to die because her brain has been infected with a religion virus would be irresponsible on their part.