Sextuplet Jehovah Witness parents refuse blood

I’ve been following the case of the Jehovah Witness parent’s who gave birth to sextuplets in Vancouver, BC on January5th/6th and I can’t understand the parents logic.

In a nutshell, the couple has refused to give their babies medically necessary blood transfusions because it is against their religion. 2 of the babies have died, and now child protection authorities are stepping in to protect 3 of the remaining 4 children. Earlier this week, 2 of those children were given blood transfusions. The parents are responding by suing to authorities, saying the province has violated their constitutional rights.

I am no expert in the Jehovah Witness religion. I do know that they oppose blood transfusions. But do their religious beliefs extend to denying their children the right to life by withholding medically necessary treatment? At what point does the state have an obligation to step in to protect children?

I’ll admit, this is treading into really delicate territory here. It’s easy to see how this kind of issue could be expanded to include abortion. And this is where the faulty logic of the parents comes into play. The father has stated that, on 2 occasions, they refused to abort any of the fetuses. So, they are “pro-life” (to use a loaded term), but then they refuse a medical intervention that could save their children? How does that logic make sense?

As a parent, I can’t understand how you could sit by and watch your child die when the means to save them is available. That kind of blind faith boggles me. And you really have to question the sincerity of the statement by Mark Ruge, spokesman of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada, when he says, ”We want the best, I mean, who doesn’t want the best?”

Isn’t living “the best”?

17 responses to “Sextuplet Jehovah Witness parents refuse blood

  1. First, let me say thank you for saying that you are not an expert on Jehovah’s Witnesses…most people don’t admit that and just run off saying things they have no understanding what they are saying. That being said, I am a JW and a father. Without a doubt, JW’s want the very best care for themselves and their families, however, when something that man says conflicts with what the bible says, we always step back and go with what God says. IN this case, it’s the doctors versus what the bible says. Acts 15:19-21 says “Abstain from…fornications and from what is strangled AND FROM BLOOD”. God views blood as a vital part of life and says to abstain from blood. This means, eating it, or taking it into the body such as via a blood transfusion.

    Now, you ask how can a parent sit back and watch their child die. Let me say that in NO WAY do JW’s want anyone to die, let alone their own family, however, we have faith in God and his kingdom that he will un-do anything including death that has happened to us in this system of things…but ONLY if we adhere to his commandments….again, in this case, abstaining from blood. Yes it would be hard to watch your child die, but God can and will bring that child back to life. Plus, many patients survive and beat all the odds when they refuse the blood transfusion even after doctors have said to their face “you will die if you do not accept this blood”. God holds the parents responsible for their children until they are old enough to understand for themselves.

    Not only are there many complications that can arise from a blood transfusion (aids, hepatitis etc…) but its NOT a guarantee that your life will be saved with a blood transfusion. Not only that, there are plenty of alternative methods to a blood transfusion that often have a higher chance of success…it’s just most doctors are quick to fall back on blood transfusion because they are quick and easy.

    Were the patients rights violated? Yes they were and there have been countless cases where hospitals have sued the JW parents because of their children. Almost every time the courts says it’s up to the parents to decide what is best for their children. We understand the risks, but we also must obey God as ruler rather then men (Acts 5:29). Most people are just quick to condemn the parents because they do not have all the facts. Let me just leave you with this, next time the JW’s stop by your house, ask them to explain the “no blood” issue to you (just a quick and easy discussion) then you will have all the information you need so that you can post an informative and great article and you’ll be that much closer to understanding why JW’s do not accept blood transfusions. However, thank you for asking genuine questions, I just hope you are open to the answers that you will receive…and I hope you really are looking for correct reasons why JW’s don’t accept blood. If you still want to discuss this, drop me an e-mail. Scott

  2. You are an idiot!

  3. Scott, thanks for the detailed and thoughtful posting. I don’t want to turn this into a flame-war or JW bashing. I hope the discussion can result in some understanding as to why and how someone is forced into this kind of decision. I agree, a blood transfusion is no guarantee that a life will be saved. But isn’t it worth a shot?

  4. Clint: Unfortunately people look for any reason to bash other religions or other people because they don’t agree with them. Hopefully you can remove the offensive posts.

    It’s true that JW’s want the best medical care possible, but again, not if it conflicts with God’s word. There are plenty of medical alternatives that can be tried.

    Take for example my father in law. Last year he had that gastric bypass surgery…well that same day the doctor was to perform 6 other bypass surgeries. As you can guess, he is a JW and did NOT want blood during this operation (blood transfusions are common for this operation). Well before the surgery the surgeon came in to try and convince him to use blood, he refused and the dr said “ok, but I will let you die since you won’t accept one”. My father in law said that was fine. Then before the dr left the room he said “you’re trying to give me a heart attack aren’t you?” Of course he said that half-jokingly…but the doctor said that the blood transfusion is basically his backup and this just means he would have to be more careful. Guess how it turned out? Not only did he have a successful surgery, but he was also the 1st person of all 7 to be released from the hospital. The other 6 that had blood transfusions not only had complications, but they also had to stay in the hospital an extra week. He only stayed for 1 day. He then went back the following week for a checkup, and the same people that had surgery that day with blood were still trying to recover.

    So again, we DO want the best medical care possible and we love our kids, family and neighbors, but we can not go against what God has commanded. This painful life is only temporary, soon God will wipe out every tear from our eyes, death and mourning and pain will be no more…(Rev 21:3-4). When Jesus gave the model prayer, he said “let your kingdom come”…that kingdom will come soon and will un-do all the wickedness and pain and death in this life. We have a firm hope that as long as we follow God’s word to the best of our ability, he will reward us with everlasting PERFECT life in a new system of things. So even if our children (or family members) die because of refusal of blood, we know for sure that God will resurrect them in the new system. Again, we DO NOT WANT our children to die, but as I stated above, we must obey God as ruler rather then men and God has specifically said to “abstain from blood”.

    Thank you so much for being understating and truly wanting to understand why JW’s don’t accept blood transfusions.

  5. Sorry Scott. I still can’t understand the logic. But then again, I’m agnostic and can’t understand blind faith in a divine being.

  6. Clint…thank you so much for talking to me…but I was wondering, if you don’t mind telling me…what made you decide to be agnostic (if I’m saying that right)? I understand this is something of a “middle” area…or basically you don’t believe either way that God does exist or does not exist…am I correct?

    I hope I worded this right and didn’t offend you…I’m trying to understand your reasoning or thought process and maybe help you to understand the main issue a little better 🙂

  7. Hi Scott. You said, “God holds the parents responsible for their children until they are old enough to understand for themselves”.

    What verses in the Bible referrence that?

  8. Hi Scott,

    Can I ask Why did your Father in law have Gastric bypass surgery?
    And what kind?
    and then what kind did the other 7 have done this is very important to know when you are giving such blanket statements.
    Because of His Blood,
    Tom

  9. A major problem with the argument for blood tranfusions is the dogma or stigmata “you will die without it”, or “I can’t understand how you could sit by and watch your child die when the means to save them is available.”

    These statements or questions are false and misleading. Blood transfusions are not in any case a guarantee of survival. For a doctor to say assuredly you will live if you receive one, or die without it, is grossly negligent and deceptive, for he must know the risks involved and understates them, and he must also know that tens of thousands of people die every day after receiving them and ignores this.

    Some of them are not even required, yet cause the death of the recipient.

    How can you reconcile “pro life” with refusal of blood? The use of blood has inherent risks, it can cause death. It is very similar to having an organ transplant, there is immune system suppression, possibility of shock, possibility of clerical errors and contaminants in the blood. Refusal of blood is trying to preserve life, as is the anti-abortion stance.

    A factor not mentioned is the cause for the perceived need for blood. How much blood was drawn from the children for tests?

    It would be very ironic if blood was drawn to type the children and determine what kind of blood was needed for a transfusion, thus exacerbating any anemia and making a transfusion necessary.

    I think typing uses very little blood, but theere are a plethora of tests “required” for premature babies, and the drawing of blood is a major factor in their health.

    So were the parents responsible for this, or the doctors who took out the blood?

    I’m sure the doctors were careful to use as little as possible, but another thing to think about, what is the survival rate for children born this premature and this small, when they do get transfusions?

  10. Clint, I believe that because as you say you are agnostic, you may have some difficluty understanding our religious reasons for rejecting blood. There are several points in the Bible where God made it plain that blood is His property, including human blood. (Genesis 9) We believe the Bible is the greatest source of direction for human life because the creator of human life authored it. Why can we believe it?

    Take the hygeine and deitary restrictions of the Mosaic law. These were millenia ahead of scientific explanation. Today we know why these command were given. (Not defecating in town or camp for example.) So when the bible says *abstain* from blood we think God must have good reason for saying so. As usual the Bible’s commands are proven the best way of handling situations as blood transfusions are becoming less and less attractive to medical personell. I strongly encourage you to google ‘bloodless medicine’ and read what comes up. The Bible once again has proven to be a reliable guide to humankind.

  11. If I can put my two cents in here for a moment. I still can’t believe this story. What it really comes down to is the parents basically had two choices. Allow the blood transfusions which probably would have saved those babies lives. Or not allow them. I don’t understand how any parent could let that happen. It seems a little selfish to me that they would let those babies die just to keep in good with “god”. If it were me, I would say ok, I’m obviously going to “hell” for allowing my children to recieve blood transfusions but at least my children are going to grow up to be healthy adults. If I went up to my father and said hey dad would you risk spending an eternity in hell so I can live a happy and healthy life, I know he would say in a heart beat. Why? Because he loves me and he’s my dad.

  12. Thanks for your comments, Christina. And you are always welcome to put your 2 cents in here 🙂

  13. Marcy Murdock

    My opinion is…

    This is a misuse of the scriptures here as far as I am concerned…that scripture speaks of animal blood,
    Acts 15
    20. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

    This does NOT mean to stop using medical help to live…this means remain away from the pollutions of idols…remain away from the strangled animals and the blood of them…in order to truly understand this scripture you need to go into the old testament and read the book of law…
    God did not intend for us to kill ourselves by refusing blood to keep us alive for life is in the blood It does say in the commandments Thou shalt NOT KILL…refusing medical help that will save ones life is killing to me…I know other religions believe differently and all but to me this is a true mis-representation of given scripture.
    We are not to EAT the blood as it says in
    Leviticus 17
    12. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.
    13. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
    14. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

    It says EAT not use for medical reason to live therby.

    This was for medical reasons…and how I believe is when the day comes and we face our God what will be said when He asks of why was these children killed…and if I am wrong then I answer only to the judge himself and no other.

  14. hi one thing i would like to say in defence of the wittness there are very important things to worry about other than blood, i am now 37 and worry about old age and health i hate the thought of diying. the witttness teach that when you die you do not go to heaven .this is what my bible says not what jehovah wittness bible says, Ecclesiastes 9 v 5this is what it says . For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten also when martha was talikng to jesus he said those living in the last days ,would never die at all mattew mark and luke for told signs of the last days mattew 24 v3 to 7 is one what i am tring to say is according to the bible we are all going to die and when armaggedon comes we will Rev 21:3-4 says death will be no
    more so then name one religon that teaches bible truth to the point were they act in harmany with what the bible says the jehovah wittness have it right in my veiw blood is dangerous full of germs aids and so on we all die any way one day i would rather die in gods favor so i will be looked after

  15. hi one thing i would like to say in defence of the wittness there are very important things to worry about other than blood, i am now 37 and worry about old age and health i hate the thought of diying. the witttness teach that when you die you do not go to heaven .this is what my bible says not what jehovah wittness bible says, Ecclesiastes 9 v 5this is what it says . For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten also when martha was talikng to jesus he said those living in the last days ,would never die at all mattew mark and luke for told signs of the last days mattew 24 v3 to 7 is one what i am tring to say is according to the bible we are all going to die and when armaggedon comes we will come back from the dead Rev 21:3-4 says death will be no
    more so then name one religon that teaches bible truth to the point were they act in harmany with what the bible says the jehovah wittness have it right in my veiw blood is dangerous full of germs aids and so on we all die any way one day i would rather die in gods favor so i will be looked after

  16. Blood issue at a glance: The Watchtower leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses say NO blood, BUT they actually DO ALLOW some blood “fractions”.
    Problem is this variance is so esoteric complicated that by the time special elders appear in the ER with the rule book, the JW patient is at the point of no return,bleeding to death.
    NOW,they blame the hospital staff for not having a “cell saver” machine instead of the Watchtower leaders who are responsible for making the rules.

    I was born a 3rd generation Jehovah’s Witness in 1957 and endured the Watchtower’s no blood commandment with longstanding bleeding Crohn’s disease.The Watchtower leadership expects followers to die for their dogma and many have.The medical staff get blamed and are ‘damned if they do damned if they don’t’.

    In 20 years there will be artificial blood for anyone who chooses it,putting an end to this drama.

  17. I agree with you, Marcy!

    JW tend to take bible verses out of their context. The only reason the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Antioch about abstaining from blood is that these people of Antioch as converted gentiles had to show respect to the Jews and not offend them (see the dispute in the beginning of Acts 15). The Jews were used to keeping the ceremonial law of Moses, which included staying away from blood. With Christ’s death and ressurrection the OT laws were fulfilled which means that the NT Christians (including us)do not have to keep the ceremonial laws of Moses’ time. The gospel has set us free of these things!!! Also, we are saved by grace, not by abstaining from blood transfusuions or other ‘outward’ things. May God open your eyes, Scott.