Religious and Medical Dilemma

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"You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood" (Lev. 17:14). This is just one of the several scriptures found in the bible from which the Jehovah Witnesses base their beliefs. To summarize the above excerpt, Jehovah Witnesses strongly believe that contributing to the health of their bodies by way of any type of blood material is not intended by God’s will. However in dire cases, ethical questions need to be raised regarding the patient’s mental capacity and legal competence. In particular cases concerning minor patients, where mental capacity is accounted for, parents should not have the dominant opinion about how their child wants to receive surgery based on their own personal beliefs.

The hospital was presented with a difficult decision to make concerning a particular case involving a minor Jehovah Witness. A fifteen year old girl was brought in to the emergency room after being the subject of an automobile accident. There are four options the doctor can consider: refusal of the surgery, perform the surgery without blood considering the parent’s wishes, perform the surgery with blood respecting the decision of the patient, or complete the surgery with blood and do not inform the parents.

When asking whether or not parents should make the decision for the child in this case, concerns could be raised as to if the patient is endangered by their own parents. When a parent is basing a lifesaving decision on religious beliefs that the patient might not even reciprocate, is the parent looking out for the child or their religious reputation? In this particular case, the patient’s surgery would be a low-risk and high-benefit procedure and the patient expresses her wishes in favor o...

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...usion? Remember, Jehovah requires that we abstain from blood. This means that we must not take into our bodies in any way at all other people's blood or even our own blood that has been stored. (Acts 21:25) So true Christians will not accept a blood transfusion. They will accept other kinds of medical treatment, such as transfusion of nonblood products. They want to live, but they will not try to save their life by breaking God's laws.—Matthew 16:25.

Justice is the fourth and last principle of medical ethics. On all legal points, any of the situations the doctor can choose are perfectly legal, however, there is a conflict of interest in this case concerning the religious beliefs of the patient versus the religious beliefs of the parents and church. Is it admissible to perform the surgery knowing the legal guardians do not approve of the patient’s wishes?
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