I know I’m a bit late to the table on this one, and it’s a table that many have been sat at for years, but this is just staggering. A Jehovah’s Witness, in her 20s, in the UK has died after giving birth. All indications are that if she had accepted a blood transfusion, she would have lived. Strangely, as pointed out in the article I’ve linked to at the BBC, the law protecting the religious beliefs of those who want to die because of something written in a book, comes under the umbrella of human rights. Oh the irony.
While I do believe human rights are important, of course, they are such a slippery subject to argue about. So many grey areas, and so many opposing views. In this case, for example, you have the human rights of the woman giving birth to consider. She, seemingly, signed a document refusing a blood transplant. We know her husband and family are also Jehovah’s Witnesses so we can’t say with any conviction that, if able to, she would have refused a blood transfusion when dieing. What no one seems to be considering is the human right of the baby she was giving birth to. Is it a human right to have a mother? Do you even have human rights as a newborn baby? In this situation it seems as though the only person who’s view mattered was that of the husband. So essentially, the human rights of two people were decided by another.
There is also the medical staff. Surely their human rights have to be considered. Of all the things you could possibly witness in this world, the mother of a new born baby dieing in front of your eyes, due to something you could prevent, must be right up there as one of the worse.
To make the decision to die from a condition that can be prevented crosses into the realms of mental illness in my book. It is to decline and suppress one of the most powerful instincts, the instinct to survive. The Johova’s Witnesses interpretation of the relevant bible quote can also be questioned. The text specifically refers to drinking blood. To drink another person’s blood is not the same as having a blood transfusion. A transfusion using blood from a willing donor. I can’t see how any decent, loving God would be against this and just reaffirms my belief that, if there was a God, I wouldn’t like him.
There’s an account of a similar incident here.