CAN A MINOR REFUSE MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS?

Today the Supreme Court hears a case involving A.C., a 14 year-old Winnipeg girl who is a Jehova’s Witness. A.C. believes she has the right to prevent doctors from running roughshod over her religious beliefs and forcing a blood transfusion on her. However, she was forcibly given a transfusion (on a judge’s order) to replace blood she had lost through Crohn’s disease.

A.C. described her ordeal this way: “Having someone else’s blood pumped through my veins, stressing my body, caused me to reflect on how my rights over my body couldbe taken away by a judge who did not care enough to talk with me … I will not violate Jehovah God’s command to abstain from blood.”

One of the issues before the Court is when a mature minor can be forced to accept treatment, even though they have the mental capacity to make treatment decisions.

However, the Crown takes a different view: “Legislation regulating marriage, voting, driving, drinking, contracting, will-making and many other areas establish minimum ages which in turn, deny privileges or impose disabilities on those persons younger than a certain age.”

In your opinion should a 14-year-old Jehova’s Witness be able to refuse a blood transfusion on religious grounds?

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18 Comments »

  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    If she does it truly of her own volition. Why not. If she does for fear of being ostracized by her family and community, the case should be closely examined. All religions dislike dissenters, The Witnesses are particularly harsh on them.

  2. 2
    Chimera Says:

    Religion or no religion, at the age of fourteen, she has the right to make her own decisions regarding her own body. She has the right to have an abortion if she gets pregnant, and she has the right to choose birth control if she wants it.

    She may seek treatment. She must also be allowed to refuse it.

  3. 3
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    If my religion was against blood transfusion and I refused to have one, I would be happy if someone forced me to have one, thereby saving my life. Wouldnt you?

  4. 4
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “If my religion was against blood transfusion and I refused to have one, I would be happy if someone forced me to have one, thereby saving my life.”

    That is not true at all. The fact that you feel this way means you wouldn’t refuse one in the first place.

    She should be allowed to make her own decisions (however dumb they may be)… if she wants to kill herself by refusing a medical procedure then be my guest!

  5. 5
    Chimera Says:

    Peter, your religion is a choice you make, and you either choose to live by its tenets or not. The responsibility to conform or break away is yours and yours alone. It is, after all, your life, not someone else’s.

    If you would be “happy” to have someone else force a decision upon you that breaks you away from your religion, then you are shirking your responsibility to yourself and looking to have someone else take all the responsibility for you. It’s a very Canadian attitude, to look to the government and courts as parents, but it’s very juvenile.

    Time to grow up.

  6. 6
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    Joe, “you wouldnt refuse one in the first place”, not true, my wife and I practiced birth control by periodic abstinence, for many years. We were following the rules and we didnt like it. Although it helped us with discipline.

    We were anxiously waiting for The Second Vatican Council to change the rules. No luck, so we changed them ourselves.

  7. 7
    Joe Agnost Says:

    After reading Chim’s comment I realized I was wrong… you would like someone else to make the life saving decision for you. Rather than breaking from your religion you would follow the religion with the hopes that a doctor would disregard your wishes and save you anyway.

    Is that right??

    “my wife and I practiced birth control by periodic abstinence, for many years…….We were anxiously waiting for The Second Vatican Council to change the rules. No luck, so we changed them ourselves.”

    So you aren’t catholic anymore?? What do you mean by “changed them ourselves”??

  8. 8
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    Joe, I am proud to be a Roman Catholic, I dont have to believe in everything the Pope says, I do have to follow the Apostles Creed, which doesnt mention birth control.

  9. 9
    Joe Agnost Says:

    So you call yourself catholic but you pick and choose which catholic rules to follow… it sounds catholic to me – but you know the pope would disagree right?

    Why not find a religion that allows birth control?

  10. 10
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    Joe, theirs more to being a Roman Catholic than birth control.

    Chimera, what do you mean by grow up, Ill be 70 years grown in July isnt that up enough.

  11. 11
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Joe, theirs more to being a Roman Catholic than birth control.”

    Of course there is.

    I’m just pointing out that your own pope would deny you communion and wouldn’t call you catholic. It’s an all or nothing religion – you can’t pick and chose which rules to follow.

    Why do you want to be catholic if your own pope doesn’t want you?

  12. 12
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    You all have said so many things about religion. To me, it is not organised religion religion that counts and that gets me through day by day. It is my personal faith that makes me abel to cope. I could write a book about all the experiences I have had in the past 30 years and I do depend on a God that has made me. And the whole of creation as well. To me nothing makes any sense without my faith.
    To me it is love, fath and hope that count. And free will! I would respect the free will of anyone to make up their own mind. I am only concerned about the pressure from the family. Teenagers are still dependent on their parents.But I must confess that I am very fragile where my son is concerned. I would talk to God about this decision.
    I think to know that we need help requires strengh. It is important to know that there are exeptions to every rule. The God I know knows that too, I figure.

  13. 13
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    Well said Heidi, I agree.

  14. 14
    Joe Agnost Says:

    More people should ditch organized religion and follow Heidi’s path!! Good on ya!

    But Peter – if you agree with Heidi then why would you say:

    “Joe, I am proud to be a Roman Catholic”

    The RCC is a pretty organized religion (I’d call it a corporation really). If you agree with Heidi – and I think you do – then why not ditch the RCC altogether?

    “I dont have to believe in everything the Pope says”

    But that’s the thing – you DO have to follow everything the pope says. In the RCC the pope is infallable.

    Are you really not aware that birth control is NOT a matter of personal choice to catholics?? Are you confessing every week to using it??

    I don’t mean to sound like I’m coming down on you Peter but I’m really interested in your views on this. I’m aware that many catholics break the rules of the RCC – but not many admit it the way you did.

  15. 15
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    Joe, the Roman Catholic Church has the words of eternal life, Im staying put.

  16. 16
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “Joe, the Roman Catholic Church has the words of eternal life, Im staying put.”

    I don’t know if I understand what you’re saying here.

    Are you saying that you like the RCC’s idea about eternal life? If that’s the case, doesn’t it change your mind when you learn that this eternal life won’t include you since you don’t follow the rules?

    I’m interested in your reasons for staying with a church that has clearly stated that unless you follow every rule TO THE LETTER you are not considered a member. Do you disagree?

  17. 17
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    As Heidi said Joe it is Love, Faith and Hope and not the letter of law that counts. Im pretty sure the Pope would agree.

  18. 18
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “As Heidi said Joe it is Love, Faith and Hope and not the letter of law that counts.”

    Which is why I’m surprised you’re into organized religion. If it’s “love, faith and hope” that you’re interested in why do you need an (organized) church?

    “Im pretty sure the Pope would agree.”

    Interesting. You’re absolutely wrong though… you would THINK the pope would agree, but he does not. Look it up! I’m surprised that you’re catholic because you seem to have missed one of the biggest rules: obey ALL the rules.

    Seriously – look it up! You’ll find that the pope would deny you communion and a place in heaven because of your stance on birth control.


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