Judge rules against Jehovah’s Witness

Judge rules against Jehovah’s Witness

Despite his mother’s objections, a High Court judge has ruled that  seriously ill teenager can be treated with blood products

Mr Justice Cobb said the 13-year-old boy’s mother was a Jehovah’s Witness and was not “happy”.

The judge gave medics permission to administer “plasma exchange treatment” after concluding that without it the youngster’s prospects of recovery were slight.

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling by Mr Justice Cobb following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

The judge had been asked to make a decision by specialists treating the boy. He did not identify anyone involved.

This treatment is … controversial in this case because the mother is a Jehovah’s Witness and finds herself unable, by virtue of her religious principles, to consent to this treatment.


Without this treatment, the prospects for (the boy) of recovering very much from where he currently lies is slight.

Based on their interpretation of biblical commandments against ingesting blood, Jehovah’s Witnesses reject blood transfusions and the use of other products derived from blood.

According to the Reasoning with Jehovah’s Witnesses blog, The Watchtower Society’s requirement that Jehovah’s Witnesses must refuse to accept blood transfusions dates back to 1945.

Misinterpreting the Old Testament prohibition against eating animal blood as a routine food item, the Watchtower Society began teaching that receiving a blood transfusion was “eating human blood”. The Watchtower teaches Jehovah’s Witnesses to believe that receiving an infusion of human blood into their body’s circulatory system is the exact same thing as eating or ingesting blood into their body’s digestive system.

Justice Cobb’s ruling follows a similar ruling by Justice Keehan in February that a seriously ill new-born should receive surgery, including any necessary blood transfusions, at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. In this case the parents – both Jehovah’s Witnesses – refused to consent to the treatment on religious grounds but did not take any active steps to prevent the ruling.

According to a National Secular Society report, Dr Antony Lempert, Chair of the Secular Medical Forum (SMF), said:

This case is another example of the serious risks faced by some children born into families where religious dogma is given greater respect than essential medical care for the children in the family.

The judge was quite right to overrule the religious objection raised by this boy’s mother but wrong to collude with the myth that the mother was ‘unable’ to give her consent. The lack of consent was a choice made by the mother; a choice for which she should be held as accountable as other parents who choose to harm their children for whatever reason.

The fact that religion may sometimes be seen as an excuse for allowing harm to one’s children has been recognised by the doctors’ regulatory body, the GMC in its 2012 guidance. This GMC guidance states that: ‘In some cases it may be difficult to identify where parents’ freedom to bring up their children in line with their religious and cultural practices or beliefs becomes a cause for concern about a child’s or young person’s physical or emotional well-being’.

The SMF supports parents who wish to make reasonable decisions about their child’s upbringing and supports competent adults who wish to make major decisions about their own treatment.

However, there should be no confusion that adults should not have the right to procure dangerous treatments for, or to withhold necessary treatments from children, including their own. Irrespective of culture of origin, all children should be appropriately protected from the dangerous expression of other people’s beliefs until such time as they are old enough to make their own decisions.

From reports it appears that this 13 year-old child was able to indicate that he wanted active treatment to save his life. It is very sad that his own mother refused to give consent to his potentially life-saving treatment and justified that refusal on the basis of her own religious beliefs and dogma.

24 responses to “Judge rules against Jehovah’s Witness”

  1. . says:

    Why are these religiofuckwits so primitive? Seems to me they are beyond borderline mentally ill. Need locking up.

  2. AgentCormac says:

    ‘Mr Justice Cobb said the 13-year-old boy’s mother was a Jehovah’s Witness and was not “happy”.’

    Presumably she’d have been even less happy if her child had died. Oh, wait… no, she probably would have been delighted that her son had gone to be with god, the angels, and Charles Taze Russell. Bloody idiots (pardon the pun).

  3. Broga says:

    Religious beliefs: like the child being inhabited by a devil and beaten to drive out the devil. Jehovahs Witnesses are highly selective in what the choose to believe. The bible has many requirements which are bizarre and impossible to follow.

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    Blood transfusions were forbidden in Watchtower September 15 1961 pp. 563-564 and Watchtower February 15 1964 pp. 127-8.

    Then they were not forbidden in Watchtower November 15 1964 pp. 680-3 and Watchtower June 15 2000 p. 31.

    So religion turns out to be capricious and the excuse people use to make themselves good & important without doing good & important deeds.

  5. Vanity Unfair says:

    The welfare of a child is paramount (Children Act 1989) so a court will always order conventional treatment if a parent refuses it for a child without an overwhelming reason. Religion is not that.
    Is there, perhaps, a whiff of hypocrisy here?
    Child needs treatment.
    Grieving parent is stopped by church “authority” from treating child.
    Social Services organisation takes legal action.
    Court orders treatment.
    Parent “reluctantly” agrees. “I am not happy about this.”
    Child saved.
    Unfortunately, the parent does not reform his thinking on a more universal level and the brainwashing continues.

  6. Don says:

    I think Vanity has it about right. In many cases the parent will be aware that the treatment will be given anyway but “withholds consent” to save face within their cult.

  7. L.Long says:

    This is an excellent example of religion making you really stupid!!
    If ‘eating blood’ was the same as ‘transfusing blood’
    then why don’t these moroons just inject steak into their blood and bypass the eating part…..lets see how many die!!!

  8. zombiehunter says:

    ^^cos that would be a waste of perfectly good steak 😛

  9. Matt Westwood says:

    Shame they don’t get to enjoy the delights of black pudding. Bought some nice bacon steaks this afternoon to go with a lovely black pudding we bought at a farm shop the other day. I do feel sorry for these arbitrarily restricting dietary requirements.

  10. RussellW says:

    L Long,

    It’s difficult to determine cause and effect, it’s also probably a case of stupidity making people religious.

  11. L.Long says:

    Well RussellW I have to agree as there is nothing intrinsically wrong with religion as it is a OK 1st guess by primitives at how things work, but stupid-lazy-political types found it an easy way to control people and for sheeple types to not have to think and then the whole thing snowballed down the hill so that now that we have better answers to nature the stupid and lazy thinkers like comfort of non-adulthood and stay religious.
    But I’m probably being insensitive to their plight.

  12. barriejohn says:

    Sorry to put the old record on again, but I know Plymouth Brethren who won’t eat black pudding. Evidently, “abstaining from blood” is one of the prohibitions that the New Testament says still apply to all Christians.

    “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.” (Acts 15: 28-29)

    Never trust anyone who professes religious belief, because they are capable of the utmost irrationality.

  13. Robster says:

    I just love it when a couple of JW’s rock up to the front door and announce that “they love science” and then proceed to explain how baby jesus whipped up the universe in a week, evolution is “just a theory”and the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Funnier still is how they look you in the eye while saying all this nonsense and then expecting us to believe it! Holy sh*t, how silly and dumb are these people? Like the mormons that pop in for a chat and 10%, I tell them they should be wearing bright red t-shirts with big white letters on the front reading “I’m a bit of a twit and are prepared to believe anything”. they don’t usually respond to that very favourably.

  14. RussellW says:

    The problem for people who are ‘born atheists’ i.e.who have never believed, is understanding the psychology of believers, it’s incomprehensible why otherwise apparently intelligent people believe such infantile crap. Wishful thinking seems to be the only plausible explanation, even people who reject organised religion think that there’s some benign deity out there, somewhere.

  15. barriejohn says:

    RussellW: I couldn’t agree more. It is very difficult explaining the religious mindset to those who have never experienced anything like it. Sadly, reason often has no influence upon the religious whatsoever.

  16. . says:

    The priests are the guilt party here. It is they that inculcate the vulnerable with the criminal ideas in the first place. In every case as this nature, where court intervention is required the guilt priest need to be punished with a lengthy prison sentence and their church fined a considerable sum to cover the legal costs to the taxpayer and the medical costs of the child. Oh and maybe the priest should be denied medical treatment when in dire need.

  17. Broga says:

    RussellW: You got it spot on. I was brought up with religion but really no more than I was brought up on fairy stories. I was an atheist in my teens and still struggle to get my head round how people can believe the obviously incredible. I don’t think many intelligent priests and religious leaders have any more belief than I have. They have a position and a career to protect.

    The future in heaven belief seems to me to be mainly wishful thinking of those who are terrified of extinction.

  18. Paul Cook says:

    Amazing isn’t it that an adult absolves herself from that adult responsibility for her action/inaction by not agreeing to medical care proven to assist, because in so absolving that responsibility she has engaged in a belief of a mythical but nonexistent entity, but one that is incapable of action.

    These people ought really to have all their children taken into loving caring homes, by people that will provide for them.

  19. Matt Westwood says:

    The puzzling thing is that the most fervent in their religious belief are the most frightened of dying.

    There was a TV program a few years ago where they were interviewing people with terminal diseases and discussing with them their futures. What sticks in my mind is the case of the old woman who had been a Roman Catholic all her life and she had her third attack of cancer. She had the choice between yet another gruelling course of chemo, with all that entails, which would have extended her life for another year or two, or to bow to the inevitable and allow the cancer to take her life in an estimated six months. Her reaction was that she believed that to *fail* to choose to undergo chemo would be choosing to end her life which would be tantamount to suicide which would be a mortal sin and it would mean she wouldn’t get into heaven. IIRC, I think it was after a more probing series of questions from the interviewer, it was revealed that in fact her problem was a pathological fear of dying, and she would do *anything* not to die. “If a course of treatment were made available to you, which would perhaps cure you, but would require that thousands of acres of woodland needed to be destroyed in order that your life would be saved, would you take that treatment?” “Yes of course I would, anybody would.”

    What would be interesting would be to see whether the fear of death was caused by religion, or whether it was fear of death which made one susceptible to become religious in the first place. Brave souls who have come to terms with the fact of the inevitability their future death often tend to be atheist (at least, the public figures who have voiced on these matters: Chris Hitchings, Wilko Johnson, etc.).

  20. RussellW says:

    A few years ago Dennett and La Scola surveyed ministers in the US and found that a surprising number of them had lost their faith,but still continued in the ministry and usually they kept the truth from their families. The reasons are obvious.

    So, every time I hear some minister or cult leader claiming divine guidance for their barking mad practices, I can’t help thinking ‘Do you actually belief that toxic crap, or are you just making a living ?’

  21. RussellW says:

    Matt Westwood,

    There’s an evolutionary explanation for religious belief –it’s a by product of those psychological characteristics that gave our ancestors a competitive advantage. There are articles in “New Scientist”and a book —
    ‘Why we believe in god/s’ by Thomson & Aukofer.

    I agree that fear of death is a factor, however it’s not the only one.

  22. Matt Westwood says:

    @RussellW: I’ve actually met quite a few good guys who happen to be local pastors of whatever denomination. I gather many of them may indeed not *really* believe the totality of the stories they purport to hold as truth, but they understand that there are a lot of people who *do* believe this stuff and *do* need help managing their hapless lives. If not them (and believe me, some of them have been a really useful practical help in their communities) then who else? A crackpot madman?

  23. RussellW says:

    @ Matt Westwood,

    Yes,many people who reject psychological counselling might instead accept ‘spiritual guidance’. However the prospect of an atheist minister purporting to be a believer while offering ‘Christian’ guidance doesn’t seem satisfactory to me.

  24. Matt Westwood says:

    @RussellW: No, nor me — but it’s a thing that exists which does a job that needs to be done and IMO there are worse things to become exercised about …