The South Australian Supreme Court has ordered that a 4-year-old Jehovah’s Witness girl receive treatment, including blood transfusions, after the girl’s parents refused the treatment on religious grounds. The girl, suffering from leukaemia, had been given a 90 per cent chance of survival if she received immediate treatment. When the parents refused the blood transfusions, the hospital petitioned the court because as paediatric oncologist Dr Petra Ritchie said, without treatment the girl “will die … I would say in weeks”.
The decision again raises the debate over why Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions when they can significantly increase the success of medical treatment. In November last year, Coroner Rod Chandler called for a change to these religious beliefs after he concluded that they contributed to the death of a woman in Hobart in 2009.
Do we have the right to tell Jehovah’s Witnesses what to believe? Should their ban on blood transfusions be abolished? Was the hospital right in going to the Supreme Court to challenge the parent’s position?
Ged thinks it’s time for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to adjust their stance on blood transfusions.