UK Judge Rules Jehovah's Witness Parents Must Allow Baby to Undergo Blood Transfusion

| by Allison Geller

A High Court judge ruled that a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses must allow their infant son to undergo a blood transfusion to save his life, despite their objections.

When Mr. Justice Keehan heard from a specialist that the baby had no ''long-term prospect of survival” if he didn’t undergo heart surgery, he ruled that the parents would have to consent to the procedure. The parents did not object to the surgery itself, but to the necessary blood transfusion that would accompany it—an “understandable objection,” the justice said.

''Their objection is on the basis of their religious beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses and they cannot consent to (their son) receiving blood products during or subsequent to the surgery. I entirely understand and sympathize with the stance of these parents,'' Mr Justice Keehan wrote in his ruling from the Family Division of the High Court in London, as reported by the Telegraph.

However, he continued, ''Standing back and looking at (the baby's) welfare best interests, I am in no doubt whatsoever that it is in his best interests to undergo the surgery that is proposed."

The tenets of Jehovah’s Witnesses dictate that followers do not receive blood.

"God views blood as representing life. So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life,” their website says.

The Shropshire Star reports that a 63-year-old Jehovah’s Witness died two weeks ago when a different High Court judge allowed doctors to consent to her wishes not to receive a blood transfusion. The women, who was “gravely ill” and had a history of mental illness, subsequently died.

Justice Keehan recently ruled that a man fighting for custody of his child, whose mother died, was a caring parent but not fit to take care of the child.

“He may love her, as he did frequently say he loves her. Sadly, in life that is not enough,” the judge wrote in that ruling.

Sources: Telegraph, Shropshire Star, Evening Telegraph