Dec 012007
Perhaps you have already heard about the 14-year-old Washington boy who refused extended blood transfusion treatment and therefore died (some additional info can be found here and here). Obviously, this is a terrible tragedy for his family, and I certainly hope his aunt is a true believer because if she is not then she’ll have no solace for the fact that her ignorant superstitious nonsense killed him. The judge in the case, who upheld the boy’s right to refuse the transfusions, will come in for a great deal of much-warranted scrutiny, but the fact of the matter is that it is the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deserve the scrutiny and the blame for what has happened.

I think anyone reading about this will have a knee-jerk reaction that the judge in the case made the wrong decision. The AP quotes judge Meyer as saying that the boy understood the consequences of his decision, which may well be true, in an analytical sense. Young Mr. Lindberg probably understood that he would die, but there are very few 14-year-olds, let alone 14-year-old boys, who have a good appreciation of what that means. Death isn’t something you understand unless you’ve spent some time around it, brushed up against it. And think of the teenagers you know. Would you trust any of them with life-and-death decisions? Hell, we don’t trust 14-year-olds with cars. It’s also true that the boy’s parents, who did not have custody of him, wanted him to take the transfusion—could his relationship with them have played a role in his decision?

So Meyer can be justly criticized on the grounds that Lindberg was not competent to make that judgment, or that it wasn’t Lindberg’s judgment to make. However, it should also be pointed out that this was not some one-off transfusion that would instantly cure the boy. The treatment under discussion was a long course of transfusions that would run alongside the chemotherapy. And according to the doctors the prognosis was that he had a 70% chance of surviving the ordeal, with all the discomfort and side effects to boot. Being forced to undergo the treatment against his will would certainly make this harder on the boy, and on his doctors.

That said, I personally feel that Meyer should have erred on the side of curing the boy. Lindberg’s decision was dangerous and self-destructive, and this should have indicated the opposite ruling. However, I wasn’t present for the hearing, and the decision Meyer did make wasn’t groundless. Maybe there was something in Lindberg’s demeanor suggesting greater maturity than his age would typically indicate.

You’ll note that I didn’t say anything about the religious sensibilities. That is because I give them no weight at all. Lots of people dislike the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a variety of reasons, but I’ve never been bothered by them; certainly not to the degree that I am bothered by other odious “Christians” living a life of hatred at maximum volume. So this is not a statement emerging from a blanket dislike: their attitude towards transfusion reeks of ignorance, superstition, and flat-earthism. The soul, if it exists, is not bound up in any bodily organ or fluid. Certainly people who have received massive blood transfusions have not absorbed someone else’s soul—or at least I’m sure that didn’t happen to me.

There is a bright line with religious beliefs, especially laws of practice: they’re fine as long as they don’t hurt anyone. We in America do not allow cannibalism or polygamy, although these are both religious practices with long histories. Nor are we tolerant of female genital mutilation, stoning people to death for violations of the laws of Leviticus, or human sacrifice, religious practices all. This indoctrination against lifesaving medical procedures is just as dangerous and fatal, especially when the subject is a teenager lacking in perspective and a diversity of life experiences. Judge Meyer made a mistake by allowing Lindberg to finish the deed, but it was the Jehovah’s Witnesses and their purity practices that killed that boy. That ought not be allowed.

  One Response to “Purity is death”

  1. Many Jehovah's Witnesses men,women and children die every year worldwide due to blood transfusion ban.Rank & file Jehovah's Witness are indoctrinated to be scared to death of blood.

    1) JW's DO USE many parts aka 'fractions' aka components of blood,so if it's 'sacred' to God why the hypocritical contradiction flip-flop?

    2) They USE blood collections that are donated by Red cross and others but don't donate back,more hypocrisy.

    3) The Watchtower promotes and praises bloodless elective surgeries,this is a great advancement indeed.BUT it's no good to me if I am bleeding to death from a car crash and lose half my blood volume and need EMERGENCY blood transfusion.
    The Watchtower's rules against blood transfusions will eventually be abolished (very gradually to reduce wrongful death lawsuit liability) even now most of the blood 'components' are allowed.
    In 20 years there will be artificial blood and the Red Cross will go on with other noble deeds.
    Danny Haszard

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