What Were They Thinking?


As part of its far-reaching social agenda, the Bush Administration
instituted a health care regulation so sweeping and vast, its potential to
wreak havoc seems, to me, unlimited. Popular press tells this story as one
about abortion, but that’s just where the tale begins.

Clever anti-choice operatives dressed up a malicious rule as an
"anti-discrimination," measure. In actuality it promotes
discrimination against those in need of care. It enables the self-righteous to
hold patients and whole health care systems hostage to their personal,
idiosyncratic beliefs. The "conscience" rule, went into effect January
19th, 2009, and as such is not subject to the Obama Administration’s suspension
of pending rules.

The most dangerous section, 88.4 d 2, bars
health care institutions and employers from requiring "…any individual
to perform or assist in the performance of any part of a health service
program…" if it would offend his/her religious beliefs or moral
convictions. The next line stops employers from taking a person’s refusal to "perform
or assist" into account in decisions about employment, promotion,
termination, or the extension of staff privileges. The rule covers anyone
refusing to do their job for reasons of religious belief or moral conviction
— physicians, nurses, pharmacists, technicians — apparently even cleaning
and maintenance staff.

The rule makes no exception for refusals that endanger the patient, and
imposes no duty to give the employer or patient ample notice of a pending
refusal. The refusers are not even required to make sure
"non-refusing" staff are ready to cover for them during a crucial
treatment or procedure. Apparently that’s someone else’s job.

So let’s get this straight. Anyone, anywhere, anytime, can claim an
authentic, deeply held moral objection to any health care treatment, procedure
or prescription and opt out, on the spot, leaving a patient high and dry. And
there’s not a thing the employer can do about it, because the Feds say so.

How is this not a prescription for chaos?

The righteous people at the Bush HHS spotlighted abortion, sterilization and
contraception in this rule. But their rule certainly doesn’t stop there. We
have already written about the disastrous impact this rule is likely to have on
end-of-life pain care
, and especially the urgent intervention against
suffering called terminal sedation. The rule exaggerates an already significant
problem of under-treated pain by empowering health care personnel, including
those at the bedside, who have personal moral or religious beliefs opposing
aggressive pain care, regardless of the patient’s agony.

This rule could have a dramatic effect on all patients. How far could this
go?

Jehovah’s Witnesses, one group with deeply held religious convictions,
believe the transfer of blood and blood products is sinful. I don’t think these
good people have ever sought to impose their beliefs on others, or grind health
care to a halt to accommodate their beliefs. But this rule certainly gives them
license to do that if they wish. "Sorry," the Jehovah’s Witness
nurse, technician or aide could say to a trauma patient bleeding to death in
the emergency room. "I can’t help, even to carry the blood to the bedside.
Find somebody else to go get it, or set up the IV to deliver it, or confirm
it’s the correct blood type." This sweeping rule even prohibits a
blood bank from declining to hire a Jehovah’s Witness in the first place, even
if their convictions would bar them from performing any actual work at the
blood bank.

Another religious denomination with strong health care convictions are
Christian Scientists, who adhere to Mary Baker Eddy’s science of Christian
healing and reject techniques of medical care. A Christian Science nurse,
technician or other hospital worker could refuse to participate in any aspect
of their job description, with full protection from the federal government.

This is just the beginning — just a few moral convictions enshrined in
established religious denominations. What about the myriad of personal,
idiosyncratic beliefs and convictions people usually keep to themselves? This
federal rule might coax these private convictions into overt demonstration,
given that we can’t discriminate against the person who refuses to do their job
because of them.

Think of people declining to participate in any procedure or treatment that
was tested on animals. Think of people who object, accurately or not, that a
treatment arose from stem cell research. Think of anything a person could
object to, then think how the objecting person could sabotage health care, put
patients at risk and leave personnel policies in taters by exercising their new
found "anti-discrimination" right.

Finally, there’s administration’s absurd estimate of the cost of its rule on
our already strained system. The estimate includes one person’s time (they
think 30 minutes will be plenty) to read the paperwork and certify that the
institution complies. Nothing more. They conclude that this modest cost will be
MORE than made up by the fantastic opportunities in health care for all the
people who might have previously thought health care was not the career for
them, because their deeply held convictions would bar them from actually
delivering services. They were so wrong! According to this crazed policy, they
should all apply for employment at their local health care institution, and
finally get the world to conform to their convictions! At last they will really
matter!

Unfortunately, patients are the unwitting victims in the service of
sanctimony.

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To schedule an interview with Barbara Coombs Lee please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • invalid-0

    Does anyone yet know for certain that President Obama’s executive order put a stop to this? All I have seen so far are rumors and guesses.

  • invalid-0

    Danny Haszard posted 100% facts about the Jehovah’s Witnesses twisted deadly blood transfusion ban and the JW trolls need to stop stalking.

  • invalid-0

    At its core, the Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal of blood transfusions is based entirely on faith, not on science (as their own “Blood Brochure” is very specific about). Bloodless surgery as a *preference* may be more popular than it once was, but that is not the issue at hand.

    The *doctrine* and practice of letting someone die rather than allow the use of blood in life-threatening situations is the real issue. And at its core is the blind adherence to the dictates of an organization of men.

    The “blood issue” is the JW’s Jonestown Kool-Aid. It is their baseless test of loyalty to their Society. Despite the fact that it makes little sense to a silent majority of them anymore, they think it proves their faithfulness to “God’s organization” People who die refusing blood, or who let their children die,are considered heroes.

    The Watchtower has teams of lawyers to protect itself from wrongful death lawsuits.

  • invalid-0

    I am NOT commenting on the actual legislation nor its merits, limitations, or omissions. I just wanted to bring a specific thought to the fore.
    `
    In Nazi Germany, German soldiers were constantly ordered to commit and be parties to acts that any normal human being would feel is against his conscience (e.g., imprisoning non-combatants, starving and beating them, stealing their personal possessions, and even killing them…by the millions). ALL humans know these acts to be wrong whether “Christian” or not.
    `
    But, the official government policy at that time was for all service personnel to participate in these activities. Comparing this situation to that described in this article, if those soldiers had upheld their consciences and not participated in those heinous acts, they would have been ostracized, certainly punished, and possibly killed themselves…for doing what was right. But, a person of integrity would HAVE to uphold their conscience DESPITE the consequences. To themselves or others. “Right” is right.
    `
    People who have strong convictions, especially those based upon Bible principles, not only have the RIGHT to live according to their consciences, but also have the OBLIGATION to do so. As should we all.
    `
    I do understand that this is aggravating to those not burdened by a honed conscience or a belief in God, and yes, could potentially be life-threatening in certain situations. But, as Americans, isn’t this country FOUNDED on the premise that each individual has the right to believe as they choose? Not what the “majority” would choose for us no matter how strenuously they believe they are in the right? WE are the ones who will be accountable to God for our own actions.
    `
    And, when a person’s belief is based upon God’s Word (whether others agree with their interpretation or beliefs or not), is that not the MOST important factor here? What could be more important than living your life trying to please God and live by His standards as you understand them? Without people of conscience, can you IMAGINE the horrific world we would live in? The pandemic atrocities that would be committed?
    `
    We would have much, MUCH bigger fish to fry than quibbling about potential scenarios we can envision happening in some imagined situation.
    `

  • invalid-0

    The inclusion here of Christian Scientists as employees in medical situations where they might refuse to give care is highly unlikely. There are indeed Christian Science nurses, but they are generally trained in practical nursing care in CS nursing facilities and work either privately for Christian Scientists in their homes, for LVN services, or in CS nursing facilities. While some I’ve known have been medical nurses previously, they have left medical care to work in CS care. For the same reason, Christian Scientists would would rarely, if ever, be employed in medical facilities. There is, nonetheless, no church teaching that requires the withholding of medical care for oneself or others.

  • invalid-0
  • invalid-0

    Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal to take blood is not about the Watchtower Society. It is based on each individual’s choice to follow what the Bible says.

    And refusing blood is not equal to dying. This is not the stone ages to where refusing blood equals death. Refusing blood actually equals life.

  • invalid-0

    How does anyone get the idea that Danny Haszard knows facts about anything?

    • http://www.dannyhaszard.com invalid-0

      You Jehovah’s Witnesses troll cult stalkers are paranoid obsessed with ‘enemies of da people’

    • http://shortmate.com/534/ invalid-0

      Followers of the Watchtower cult get possessed by an arrogant dog-eat-dog spirit.Puffed up with pride they lose objectivity.This pathological “need” to always be right blinds them to logical reason and makes them vicious and malicious.

      Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t defend their wacko dogmas anymore,so they go on shoot-the-messenger attack rants.

      This cult is sleazy fraud for God through and through,what makes them a worse offender than the other religious scammers is they COME TO YOUR HOUSE

      Look Bible thumpers U are described in scripture here:

      [ Romans 1:28 “28 Furthermore, because they did not think it worthwhile to keep knowing God fully, God delivered them to degraded minds to perform acts that should not be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, quarreling, deceit, and viciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, haughty, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to their parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

  • invalid-0

    Not when you’re hemorrhaging, it doesn’t.

  • invalid-0

    FloridaMom: Beautifully put.

    Quote from “anonymous” at 10:20 a.m. 1/27/09: “Danny Haszard posted 100% facts about the Jehovah’s Witnesses twisted deadly blood transfusion ban and the JW trolls need to stop stalking.”

    I have seen Danny Haszard’s comments in newspapers all over the United States. Very quickly it became apparent to me that his “cut-and-paste” comments are the ultimate troll-speak. Talk about stalking. And what he has to say has nothing to do with fact.

    • http://www.jwfacts.com/ invalid-0

      Jehovah’s Witnesses hurl the “H” (hate) word.

      Oh, please. The supreme irony: the Jehovah’s Witnesses are some of the most intolerant people on the planet. They don’t believe in religious freedom. That slam all other religions, esp Christian ones, in order to elevate themselves in their own minds.

      The JWs take any legal maneuvers for anyone else but themselves. They’re are incredibly selfish.

      Yet they are so unethical and coldhearted that they’ll grab any pats on the back they can for inadvertently doing something that they really did only for themselves.

      ‘ If a million people believe in a stupid thing for a hundred years it’s STILL a stupid thing’-Mark Twain

  • invalid-0

    Who is Danny Haszard (did he/she even post here?) and why does this person make the Watchtower sect so nervous?

    Know this-The red cross makes zero profit on blood collections,we ‘sell’ to hospitals for $160.00 a pint what it cost to process.We have NO money.
    So,think about that if blood was not needed we would not bother.

  • invalid-0

    Nobody is out to persecute and ‘get’ the JW.This is the problem:
    They say that blood is bad with disease and will not donate,but hypocritically go and use 60% of the unit of blood for it’s component fractions and the diseases are just as much in the fractions.

    900 died in nefarious Jonestown and thousands have died over the last 50 years because of Watchtower society blood doctrine.
    Scary?

    The Bible passages in question (kosher law) have to do with diet. Neither the Jews nor other groups oppose blood transfusions because they don’t try to put a spin on something that isn’t there. If the Watchtower had not issued this prohibition, no Jehovah’s Witness would oppose them on Biblical grounds

  • invalid-0

    Actually, there are many who are out to persecute and “get” Jehovah’s Witnesses. This fact is well documented.

    And what, pray tell, connection is there between Jonestown and Jehovah’s Witnesses? None.

    What documentation do you have that thousands have died from refusing blood? Could it be possible that thousands have died from illness and accident that no treatment could cure? Please take into account all the facts before making such a blanket statement.

    The Bible passage where the prohibition on blood was repeated to the early Christian congregation (Acts 15:29) has nothing to do with kosher law and diet. They were not Jews who still practiced kosher law. Be sure to read the entire verse, since it also mentions idol worship and fornication, which are hardly diet issues.

    Any comments by Jehovah’s Witnesses that you may see in response to this article are intended to set the record straight. The prohibition on blood did not originate with Jehovah’s Witnesses. It originated with the Creator of humankind.

    As a sidenote, for centures up to less than 200 years ago it was common practice for physicians to “bleed” (or remove blood from) ill people. That was the medical opinion of the day. Interesting….

  • invalid-0

    The Watchtower ‘boast’ in their own propaganda of the countless who have died for “keeping their integrity to jehovah unto death obeying the no blood issue”.

    We all have heard about it almost one or two cases a week in the news.

    2) They do USE lots of blood ‘fractions’ that we donate but they consider sin.JW just reject whole blood’.

    Where in any Bible does it say whole blood is sin but parts of the whole are o-kay?

  • invalid-0

    Its fine with me if people object to certain procedures in their own life, however when this impeeds on the rights of others I draw the line. This needs to have the right of the employers to NOT employ others who refuse to do the work expected of them. That is after all the expectations of most employers…and to compare this to the Nazi regime is laughable.

  • invalid-0

    The rule won’t have to be repealed by Congress, since Congress never passed it. The formal rules-making process states that the Secretary of HHS will have to issue another rule undoing the first. Then, there will have to be a comment period, after which the new rule can go into effect.
    .
    There are a couple of ways around this.
    1.) Congress can pass a law blocking the rule
    2.) Obama can issue an executive order blocking the IMPLEMENTATION of the rule. The rule will still be there, but not enforced. At the same time, the Secretary of HHS can start the formal repeal process.
    .
    I suspect that the latter scenario is more likely.

  • invalid-0

    Since the ridiculous HHS ruling has already gone into effect, it will have to be formally repealed by Congress. It had better be soon!

  • invalid-0

    Can you provide documentation that “The Watchtower ‘boast’ in their own propaganda of the countless who have died for “keeping their integrity to jehovah unto death obeying the no blood issue”.”?

    I have indeed read many stories of survivors of terrible illnesses or risky surgeries who have survived without blood transfusions. I myself survived such an incident. And for those who die without resorting to accepting a blood transfusion, is there any proof that they would not have died anyway, or that a blood transfusion was a GUARANTEE of survival? Are there not people who die DAILY in spite of receiving blood transfusions? Or perhaps BECAUSE they received a blood transfusion? ABC Newscaster Frank Reynolds comes to mind.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses do not want to force their beliefs on anyone. Those who take the stand to refuse the use of blood products do so according to their own trained consciences.

    There are many medical professionals who gladly accommodate the wishes of their patients in regard to the choice of medical treatment, including the refusal of blood products. However, there are also many who insist that they be allowed to use blood in the treatment of their patients. To do otherwise would violate their beliefs. Since it isn’t the aim of Jehovah’s Witnesses to cause others to harm their own consciences, when they are faced with this situation they look for another healthcare provider who will work with them. It’s only common sense that any other patient do the same thing when it comes to the refusal of medical personnel to perform treatments that would violate the core beliefs of said personnel.

  • invalid-0

    First of all, there is no “Watchtower sect”; at least not if you are referring to Jehovah’s Witnesses. And people who disseminate disinformation about Jehovah’s Witnesses, such as Mr. Hazard has made it his life’s purpose to do, don’t make Jehovah’s Witnesses nervous. Replies posted by Jehovah’s Witnesses are normally posted in an attempt to set matters straight regarding beliefs and practices.

    If Mr. Hazard did post something here it must have been removed by the moderators, or perhaps the previous poster was confused about where he was commenting.

  • invalid-0

    “Where are the stats saying 1000s of JWs died because of refusing blood ?”

    ANSWER- Right in your organization’s own literature,also all over the news and the web.

    MAY 22, 1994 AWAKE! magazine
    Page 2

    Youths Who Put God First

    In former times thousands of youths died for putting God first. They are still doing it, only today the drama is played out in hospitals and courtrooms, with blood transfusions the issue.

    You really should stay on the porch until you research the publications provided for you by ‘faithful and discreet slave’ if you don’t want to continue exhibiting your extreme ignorance of what is contained in Watchtower Society literature.

  • invalid-0

    *** 1994 Awake! 5/22 pp. 9-15 Youths Who Have “Power Beyond What Is Normal” ***

    Youths Who Have “Power Beyond What Is Normal”

    YOU are young. Only 12. You have a family you love. You have school friends you enjoy. You have outings at the beach and in the mountains. You feel awe when gazing at a night sky packed with stars. You have your whole life ahead of you.

    And now you have cancer. Such news is a blow when you’re 60. It’s total devastation when you’re 12.

    Lenae Martinez

    So it seemed for 12-year-old Lenae Martinez. Her hope was to live forever on a paradise earth. This hope was bolstered by the Bible training she had received from her parents, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Had not she herself read in the Bible that the earth would continue forever, that it was created to be inhabited forever, and that the meek would inherit it forever?—Ecclesiastes 1:4; Isaiah 45:18; Matthew 5:5.

    Now she was in the Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno, California, U.S.A. She had been admitted there for what appeared to be a kidney infection. Tests revealed, however, that she had leukemia. The doctors treating Lenae determined that packed red blood cells and platelets should be transfused and chemotherapy started immediately.

    Lenae said that she wanted no blood or blood products, that she had been taught that God forbids that, as shown in the Bible books of Leviticus and Acts. “For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.” (Acts 15:28, 29) Her parents supported her in this stand, but Lenae stressed that it was her decision and it was very important to her.

    The doctors talked several times with Lenae and her parents. Even so, they came again one afternoon. Lenae said concerning this visit: “I was feeling very weak from all the pain and had been vomiting a lot of blood. They asked me the same questions, only in a different way. I told them again: ‘I don’t want any blood or blood products. I would rather accept death, if necessary, than to break my promise to Jehovah God to do his will.’”

    Lenae continued: “They were back the next morning. The platelets were dropping, and my fever was still high. I could tell the doctor listened to me more this time. Even though they didn’t like my stand, they did say I was a very mature 12-year-old. Later my pediatrician came in and told me he was sorry but nothing would help me but the chemotherapy and transfusions. He left and said he would be back later.

    “When he left, I started to cry very hard because he had taken care of me all my life, and now I felt like he was betraying me. When he came in later, I told him how he had made me feel—that he didn’t care about me anymore. This surprised him, and he said he was sorry. He did not mean to hurt me. He looked at me and said: ‘Well, Lenae, if that is the way it has to be, then I will see you in heaven.’ He took his glasses off and, with big tears in his eyes, said he loved me and gave me a big hug. I thanked him and said: ‘Thank you. I love you too, Dr. Gillespie, but I hope to live on a paradise earth in the resurrection.’”

    Then two doctors and a lawyer came, told Lenae’s parents that they wanted to talk to her alone, and asked the parents to leave, which they did. Through all this discussion, the doctors had been very considerate and kind and were impressed with Lenae’s articulate way of speaking and her deep conviction.

    When alone with her, they told her that she was dying of leukemia and said: “But blood transfusions will prolong your life. If you refuse blood, you will die in a few days.”

    “If I take blood,” Lenae asked, “how long will that prolong my life?”

    “About three to six months,” they answered.

    “What can I do in six months?” she asked.

    “You will get strong. You can do many things. You can visit Disney World. You can see many other places.”

    Lenae thought a bit, then answered: “I have served Jehovah all my life, 12 years. He has promised me everlasting life in Paradise if I obey him. I will not turn away from him now for six months of life. I want to be faithful until I die. Then I know in his due time he will resurrect me from death and give me everlasting life. Then I will have plenty of time for everything I want to do.”

    The doctors and the lawyer were visibly impressed. They commended her and went out and told her parents that she thinks and talks like an adult and is able to make her own decisions. They recommended to the ethics committee of the Valley Children’s Hospital that Lenae be viewed as a mature minor. This committee, made up of doctors and other health-care professionals, along with a professor of ethics from Fresno State University, made the decision to allow Lenae to make her own decisions with regard to her medical treatment. They considered Lenae a mature minor. No court order was sought.

    After a long, difficult night, at 6:30 a.m., September 22, 1993, Lenae fell asleep in death in the arms of her mother. The dignity and calmness of that night are etched in the minds of those present. There were 482 who attended the memorial service, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, who had been impressed by Lenae’s faith and integrity.

    The parents and friends of Lenae were deeply grateful that the doctors and nurses and administrators of the Valley Children’s Hospital were so perceptive in discerning the maturity of this minor and that no court case was necessary to make that decision.

    Crystal Moore

    Such consideration was not accorded 17-year-old Crystal Moore when she was admitted to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. She was suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Upon her admission to the hospital, Crystal, along with her parents, emphasized repeatedly her refusal to accept blood. She did not want to die; rather, she wanted medical treatment consistent with the Bible’s command to abstain from blood.—Acts 15:28, 29.

    The medical team caring for Crystal was certain that her condition required a blood transfusion. One doctor bluntly stated: “If Crystal does not have a blood transfusion by Thursday, June 15, then on Friday, June 16, she will be dead!” On June 16, Crystal was not dead, and the hospital applied to the Supreme Court of the State of New York for authority to force transfusions.

    At the hearing, which was hurriedly convened at the hospital that morning, one of the physicians testified that Crystal needed two units of blood immediately and might need at least an additional ten units. He further stated that if Crystal tried to resist the transfusions, he would tie her to the bed with wrist and leg restraints to accomplish the procedure. Crystal told the doctors that she would “scream and holler” if they attempted to transfuse her and that as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she viewed any forcible administration of blood to be as repulsive as rape.

    Despite her attorney’s repeated requests at the hearing, Crystal was denied the opportunity to speak for herself before the court to demonstrate her decision-making ability. Although Crystal had just received an award in the Super Youth Program in recognition of her academic excellence and leadership at her high school, the trial judge refused to allow her to testify on record about her refusal of blood. This amounted to a denial of Crystal’s rights of due process of law, bodily self-determination, personal privacy, and religious freedom.

    Although the trial court would not allow Crystal to testify on the record, the court did visit with Crystal alone in her room for about 20 minutes. After the visit the trial judge said that Crystal was “obviously very intelligent” and “very articulate” and explained that Crystal “certainly was sound in mind” and “capable of expressing herself fully.” Despite these observations, the trial court adamantly refused to allow Crystal the opportunity to decide on her own medical care.

    On Sunday morning, June 18, Crystal needed emergency surgery, which she consented to, but continued to reject blood. Only three ounces [50-100 cc] of blood was lost during the procedure. Yet, the physicians claimed that a postoperative blood transfusion might be required. Another doctor testified that no transfusion was needed. He had routinely treated similar cases without blood for the past 13 years, and no follow-up transfusions were ever needed.

    On June 22, 1989, the trial court gave temporary custody of Crystal to the hospital for purposes of blood transfusion to be given only if “necessary to protect and save her life.” This guardianship terminated when Crystal was discharged from the hospital. Crystal never needed blood, and none was ever transfused, but it is shocking to see how the court treated Crystal.

    Since being discharged from the hospital, Crystal graduated from high school with honors. Shortly afterward, she became a full-time minister as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She became a tour guide at the Jersey City Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses and volunteered as a member of a crew that builds and remodels Kingdom Halls.

    Yet, the doctors at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center said that if she didn’t get transfused on June 15, she would be dead on June 16 and that if she resisted the transfusion, she would be tied down with wrist and leg restraints. When doctors wanting court orders to give blood declare blatantly that if the judge doesn’t comply immediately, the patient will die, let them remember the case of Crystal Moore.

    Lisa Kosack

    Lisa’s first night in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children was worse than a nightmare. She checked in at four in the afternoon and was immediately given a series of tests. She didn’t get to her room until a quarter past eleven that evening. At midnight—well, let Lisa tell what happened. “At midnight a nurse came in and said: ‘I have to give you some blood.’ I cried out: ‘I can’t take blood because I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses! I hope you know that! I hope you know that!’ ‘Well, yes, I do,’ she said, and immediately pulled out my IV and shoved in the blood. I was crying and becoming hysterical.”

    What callous and cruel treatment to inflict on a sick and frightened 12-year-old girl in the middle of the night in strange surroundings! Lisa’s parents had taken her to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children hoping to find kind and cooperative doctors. Instead, their daughter was subjected to the harrowing midnight transfusion, in spite of both Lisa and her parents’ position that blood or blood products are a violation of God’s law and are not to be used.—Acts 15:28, 29.

    The next morning the hospital sought a court order to give transfusions. The trial lasted five days, presided over by Judge David R. Main. It was held in a room at the hospital, Lisa in attendance all five days. Lisa had acute myeloid leukemia, a condition usually fatal, although the doctors testified that the rate of cure was 30 percent. They prescribed multiple blood transfusions and intensive chemotherapy—a treatment involving extreme pain and debilitating side effects.

    On the fourth day of the trial, Lisa gave testimony. One of the questions put to her was how the forced midnight transfusion made her feel. She explained that it made her feel like a dog being used for an experiment, that she felt she was being raped, and that being a minor made some people think they could do anything to her. She hated seeing someone else’s blood going into her, wondering if she would get AIDS or hepatitis or some other infectious disease from it. And chiefly, she was concerned about what Jehovah would think of her breaking his law against taking someone else’s blood into her body. She said if it ever happened again, she “would fight and kick the IV pole down and rip out the IV no matter how much it would hurt, and poke holes in the blood.”

    Her attorney asked, “How does it make you feel, the Children’s Aid Society asking that custody be taken from your parents and given to them?”

    “Well, it makes me feel very, very angry; it makes me feel that they are cruel because my parents have never beaten me, they have loved me and I love them, and whenever I was sick with strep throats or colds or anything, they took care of me. Their whole life was centered around me, and now just to have somebody, just because they disagree, to come and just remove me from them I think is very, very mean, and it upsets me a lot.”

    “Do you want to die?”

    “No, I don’t think anybody wants to die, but if I do die I’m not going to be scared, because I know that I have the hope of everlasting life in a paradise on earth.”

    There were few dry eyes as Lisa courageously discussed her impending death, her faith in Jehovah, and her determination to remain obedient to his law on the sanctity of blood.

    “Lisa,” her attorney continued, “would it make any difference to you to know that the court orders you to take transfusions?”

    “No, because I’m still going to remain faithful to my God and listen to his commands, because God is a lot more superior than any court or any man.”

    “Lisa, what would you like the judge to decide in this case?”

    “Well, what I would like the judge to decide in this case is to have me just sent back to my parents and to have them to have custody again with me so I can be happy, and so I can go home and be in happy surroundings.”

    And that is what Judge Main did decide. Excerpts from his decision follow.

    “L. has told this court clearly and in a matter-of-fact way that, if an attempt is made to transfuse her with blood, she will fight that transfusion with all of the strength that she can muster. She has said, and I believe her, that she will scream and struggle and that she will pull the injecting device out of her arm and will attempt to destroy the blood in the bag over her bed. I refuse to make any order which would put this child through that ordeal.”

    Concerning the forced midnight transfusion, he said:

    “I must find that she has been discriminated against on the basis of her religion and her age pursuant to s. 15(1). In these circumstances, upon being given a blood transfusion, her right to the security of her person pursuant to s. 7 was infringed.”

    His impression of Lisa herself is interesting:

    “L. is a beautiful, extremely intelligent, articulate, courteous, sensitive and, most importantly, a courageous person. She has wisdom and maturity well beyond her years and I think it would be safe to say that she has all of the positive attributes that any parent would want in a child. She has a well thought out, firm and clear religious belief. In my view, no amount of counselling from whatever source or pressure from her parents or anyone else, including an order of this court, would shake or alter her religious beliefs. I believe that L. K. should be given the opportunity to fight this disease with dignity and peace of mind.”

    “Application dismissed.”

    Lisa and her family left the hospital that day. Lisa did, indeed, fight her disease with dignity and peace of mind. She died peacefully at home, in the loving arms of her mother and father. In so doing she joined the ranks of many other youthful Witnesses of Jehovah who put God first. As a result, she will, with them, enjoy the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise: “He that loses his life for my sake will find it.”—Matthew 10:39, footnote.

    Ernestine Gregory

    At 17 years of age, Ernestine was diagnosed as suffering from leukemia. Upon being hospitalized, she refused to consent to the use of blood products to support the chemotherapy the doctors wanted to administer. Because of Ernestine’s refusal and her mother’s support of her choice of nonblood treatment, the hospital reported the matter to the welfare officials in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., who in turn sought a court order to use blood. A hearing was arranged, at which the trial court heard testimony from Ernestine, a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, and an attorney, as well as from other people involved.

    Ernestine told her doctor she did not want blood. That it was her own personal decision based on her reading of the Bible. That an involuntary transfusion administered under court order still disrespects God’s law and is wrong in her eyes, regardless of court authority. That she was not opposed to medical treatment and did not want to die. That her decision was not a death wish, not suicidal; however, she did not fear death.

    Stanley Yachnin, M.D., testified that he was “impressed with Ernestine’s maturity, her sense of herself,” and the sincerity of her religious beliefs. He also said Ernestine understood the nature and consequences of her illness. Because of her comprehension, Dr. Yachnin saw no need to call in a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

    Nevertheless, one was called, Ner Littner, M.D., a psychiatrist, who after talking with Ernestine was of the opinion that she had the maturity of someone between the ages of 18 and 21. He stated that Ernestine exhibited an understanding of the implications of accepting or refusing blood transfusions. He said she accepted this, not because she was under the control of another, but because she believed this herself. Dr. Littner said Ernestine should be allowed to make her own decision in this matter.

    Jane McAtee, an attorney for the hospital, testified that after interviewing Ernestine, she believed that Ernestine understood the nature of her illness and that she “seemed fully capable of understanding her decision and accepting the consequences of it.”

    The court too was very impressed with Ernestine’s testimony. The court found that Ernestine was a mature 17-year-old, able to make informed medical decisions; yet, amazingly, the court granted an order allowing blood transfusions. At the hospital two doctors were standing by, transfusion equipment set up, and as soon as the court’s decision came in, the transfusion was forcibly given to Ernestine in spite of her vigorous protests. The court’s order was promptly appealed but not in time to stop the hospital’s precipitate transfusion.

    To stop any further transfusions, the trial court’s order was first appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court. In a two-to-one decision, the Appellate Court held that Ernestine could not be forced to submit to blood transfusions against her will. The court reasoned that Ernestine’s First Amendment right of religious free exercise along with her constitutional right of privacy protected her right as a mature minor to refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons.

    The child-welfare officials then appealed the Appellate Court’s decision to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, ruling that even though Ernestine was a minor, she had the right to refuse medical treatment that was objectionable to her. This supreme court based its decision on the common law right of bodily self-determination and the mature-minor rule. The standard to be applied in mature-minor cases in Illinois was summarized by the Illinois Supreme Court in the following statement:

    “If the evidence is clear and convincing that the minor is mature enough to appreciate the consequences of her actions, and that the minor is mature enough to exercise the judgment of an adult, then the mature minor doctrine affords her the common law right to consent to or refuse medical treatment.”

    Ernestine had no further transfusions, and she did not die from her leukemia. Ernestine stood firm and put God first, like the other young people mentioned previously. Each one received “power beyond what is normal.”—2 Corinthians 4:7.

    [Box on page 13]

    Dangers of Blood Transfusion

    The New England Journal of Medicine, issue of December 14, 1989, reported that a single unit of blood may carry enough AIDS virus to cause up to 1.75 million infections!

    In 1987, after it became known that AIDS was being transmitted by the volunteer blood supply, the book Autologous and Directed Blood Programs lamented: “This was the most bitter of all medical ironies; that the precious life-giving gift of blood could turn out to be an instrument of death.”

    Dr. Charles Huggins, director of blood transfusion services at a Massachusetts, U.S.A., hospital, said: “It is the most dangerous substance we use in medicine.”

    The Surgery Annual concluded: “Clearly, the safest transfusion is the one not given.”

    Because there is a much higher recurrence of cancer after surgery where blood transfusions have been used, Dr. John S. Spratt said in The American Journal of Surgery, issue of September 1986: “The cancer surgeon may need to become a bloodless surgeon.”

    The journal Emergency Medicine said: “Our experience with Jehovah’s Witnesses might be interpreted to mean that we do not need to rely on blood transfusions, with all their potential complications, as much as we once thought.”

    The journal Pathologist referred to the refusal of Jehovah’s Witnesses to take blood and said: “There is considerable evidence to support their contention, despite protestations from blood bankers to the contrary.”

    Dr. Charles H. Baron, professor of law at Boston College Law School, said concerning Jehovah’s Witnesses’ refusal to take blood: “All of American society has benefited. Not only Jehovah’s Witnesses, but patients in general, are today less likely to be given unnecessary blood transfusions because of the work of the Witnesses’ Hospital Liaison Committees.”
    End of article.

    Thank you for your kind concern about the state of my knowledge. For more accurate information, please go to: http://www.watchtower.org.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t see that the Awake article substantiates your assertion that thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses have lost their lives because of refusing blood. They do lose their lives due to incurable illnesses and serious accidents, just like the rest of the population.
    Please don’t insult everyone’s intelligence by stating that these claims “all over the news and the web” are an accurate source of information on this subject. In case you didn’t know: you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.

  • invalid-0

    Most people probably wouldn’t be comfortable in a job that requires them to violate their core beliefs in the first place.
    For instance, you likely wouldn’t find a Christian Scientist employed in the Emergency Department of a hospital or a Jehovah’s Witness working at a blood bank.

  • otaku1960

    "I do understand that this is aggravating to those not burdened by a honed conscience or a belief in God

    FloridaMom, it appears you are attempting to imply those against this rule don’t have well form consciences. That is insulting and way out of line.

    Similarly beyond the pale is the insinuation those who don’t believe in God also lack a well formed conscience.

    Shame on you.

     

    Your grievance shall be avenged.

  • invalid-0

    You JW just SPAMMED copyrighted Watchtower propaganda publication.

    This is what you do online and at my doorstep and why I do not argue with you (slam the door).

    A) You say above that the Watchtower society doesn’t dictate your convictions then go and post a longwinded cut & paste from their magazine.

    B) You say that God forbids blood but then go and use up all the little fractions of it for it’s components.

    C) Deny that JW Childern die from no blood when we hear and read about it all the time.

    WHAT A CULT!!!

  • invalid-0

    I would like to express a sincere apology to all who were offended by my posting the Awake! article. My reason for doing so was to refute the selective misquote of the article by a previous poster. However, if I have violated a netiquette rule I truly am sorry.
    That being said…to those who are not interested in reading such a post: don’t read it. This situation is a little different than receiving an uninvited, unsolicited commercial email repeatedly. This is a forum for discussion and one would hope a place for honest communication.
    My response to A, B, and C above:

    “A) You say above that the Watchtower society doesn’t dictate your convictions then go and post a longwinded cut & paste from their magazine.”
    No…simply responded to a previous poster’s selective and misleading quote from a specific magazine article. My convictions are based on what the Bible says on the subject, in this case, of the use of blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses did not make this up out of thin air.

    “B) You say that God forbids blood but then go and use up all the little fractions of it for it’s components.”
    No, I don’t.

    “C) Deny that JW Childern die from no blood when we hear and read about it all the time.”
    Again, no, I didn’t. And such a statement as “we hear and read about it all the time” is not proof that it happens that way.

    Sir or ma’am, if you do not want Jehovah’s Witnesses to call at your door, then tell them so. A polite but firm request is a lot more effective than a slammed door.

    And if you don’t want to see them defend themselves online, then don’t go online.

  • invalid-0

    You say” Individual’s choice to follow what the Bible says”………..I wiould add, “what you interpert it to say”………..

    Remember, Jesus poured out his blood to SAVE mankind.

  • invalid-0

    Colorado Mom, your sweeping generalizations make what may be legitimate gripes against a few people sound like just a mean vendetta. That’s a little like saying all Catholic priests are child molesters. Ridiculous.

  • http://www.compassionandchoices.org/home invalid-0

    In fact, the HHS Right of Refusal Regulation officially took effect on January 20, 2009.

    “Congress,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) said in a terse Dec. 18 statement, “will work with President-elect [Barack] Obama to reverse this rule.” But party leaders aren’t saying how they’ll try to do it.

    Representing one option, Sens. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) and Patty Murray (Wash.) introduced legislation last month that would simply prevent HHS from implementing the new rule. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Col.) and Louis Slaughter (D-N.Y.) have vowed to introduce similar legislation in the House next year.

    Congress could also simply refuse to fund the new rule, which is estimated to cost $44 million.

    Or they could nix it altogether by invoking an obscure law — known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA) — which allows Congress to reject White House regulations passed within 60 legislative days of Congress’s adjournment. The law would leave Democrats several months next year to kill the rule.

    The Congressional fight could shift to the White House. The HHS under Obama could simply propose a new regulation. Obama has already criticized the rule, issuing a statement in August saying the change “complicates, rather than clarifies the law.”

    This means it is now more important than ever to make your voice heard. If you have not already done so, please take a moment right now to urge Congress and the Obama administration to make immediate action for a complete withdrawal of the HHS right of refusal regulation.

    Take action today at http://capwiz.com/compassionandchoices/issues/alert/?alertid=12389146

  • invalid-0

    Barbara,
    “Clever anti-choice operatives dressed up a malicious rule as an “anti-discrimination,” measure. In actuality it promotes discrimination against those in need of care. It enables the self-righteous to hold patients and whole health care systems hostage to their personal, idiosyncratic beliefs.”

    How can you write this with a straight face? Not allowing a doctor or nurse, etc. to opt out of any procedure on the basis of their conscience is anti-choice.

    Since when did physicians simply become vending machines? and patients become perusing shoppers? Where do you get off asserting that the rights of patients to kill themselves trumps the rights of physicians?

    If we can make this work where both groups have the right to choose, then so be it. Suicide isn’t illegal any state. And it is now legal for physicians to assist patients to kill themselves in three states. I assume many more will follow in short order.

    You will not be deemed credible nor taken seriously by mainstream America until you fight for the right to choose both for patients and for physicians. Pro-choice is meaningless until it is guaranteed for everyone, not just those with your perspective.

    The new HHS rulings do not deny the rights of patients. They simply protect the rights of another very significant group of Americans: health care workers. Fight for the rights of all Americans.

  • invalid-0

    I’m reminded of a time when women, not all women, and some men were expected to do things against their will and even against their moral fiber in the “performance of their jobs.” I understand this still occurs in the work force. I think it’s one thing to go to work and not want to do some of the things involved in the job, but it’s quite another thing when expected to do something immoral in that individuals mind.

    I’m old enough to remember when it was illegal to perform abortions and the idea of legalizing such a thing didn’t even come to many minds. It was considered “wrong; end of discussion.” So, those who are my age and in the medical field could have been caught in the legalizing of this act and the resulting expectations in a very similar way as the people earlier mentioned were suddenly expected out-of-the-blue to do things that were previously not even thought of by many, I’m sure. That had to be a tough spot for many of those medical workers. It could be a tough spot for someone entering the field now.

    For me, it boils down this way:
    Would you want someone to perform a medical procedure, especially surgery, on you if that performance were against their will? My answer is NO! H___ NO!!!