Saturday, February 24, 2007

jehovah's witnesses sextuplets in vancouver

catherine philp wrote in yesterday's times:

"The birth of Canada’s first sextuplets should have been cause for celebration. But their struggle for life has provoked a ferocious battle pitching Church against State and a child’s right to life against parents’ rights to practise their faith.

When the four boys and two girls were born nearly three months prematurely in early January, they were hailed as a miracle. The mother, on being told that she was carrying multiple foetuses, had been offered “selective reduction”, a procedure to remove several foetuses to help to ensure the survival of the others. She refused.

At birth, the babies weighed less than two pounds (1kg) each, and measured less than an outstretched adult hand. They were put into incubators but within a week two had died. Doctors told the parents that the surviving infants desperately needed blood transfusions if they were to survive, but once again the parents refused."

the full article is here

according to the way the JW's understand their old testament, and the book of acts in the nt, xians are forbidden to ingest blood in any form or way. one result of this is their refusal to accept blood transfusions.

when i was a chaplain in a new jersey hospital about 15 years ago, there was a similar situation, with the parents refusing a transfusion for their small child. they believed it was god's will and that the child would go straight to god in heaven. the chaplains were called in to counsel the nurses, who were utterly confused, angry and distressed about this. the child died.

the thing is, while i abhor anyone using a scriptural text out of context to justify behaviour that causes emotional or physical pain and death, i will still take a moment to look at it from a textual context.

ok - these guys have as a key text leviticus 17:10:

"And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, that eateth any manner of blood, I will set My face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people."

fine, that is there. there is more text in the same book, though. who decides which is more important? let's look a few paragraphs later in chapter 19, verse 16:

"... neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour"

in judaism, this is the source of the concept 'pikuach nefesh', i.e., that a person must do everything possible to save the life of another, even donating bodily organs. not only that, but also the commandments of shabbat may be broken in order to save life. unless it will endanger one's own life, we are required to do all we can to save human life.

it is therefore incomprehensible to me how anyone could use text to allow a child to die, for religious reasons. what would that nice JEWISH boy jesus do, eh? 'pikuach nefesh' - save the children! aaaaargh!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:46 pm

    The following website summarizes over 200 similar court cases involving Jehovah's Witness Parents who refused life-saving blood transfusions for their children: