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justin85

Forced Blood Transfusion

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I thought some people would be interested in this story.

 

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2009/06/26/supreme-blood026.html

 

Canada's top court on Friday dismissed the case of a Manitoba girl — a Jehovah's Witness — who said her rights were violated when she was forced to get a blood transfusion against her wishes because she was a minor.

 

In a 6-1 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that such medical interventions are constitutionally sound.

 

However, the ruling also said lower courts from now on must consider the maturity and decision-making skills of minors before deciding on enforced treatment.

 

"The more a court is satisfied that a child is capable of making a truly mature and independent decision on his or her own behalf, the greater the weight that must be given to his or her views when a court is exercising its discretion" regarding the best interests of the child, said Justice Rosalie Abella, writing for the majority.

 

"If, after a careful analysis of the young person's ability to exercise mature and independent judgment, the court is persuaded that the necessary level of maturity exists, the young person's views ought to be respected."

 

The girl argued her case so convincingly that the Supreme Court awarded her costs — which could be as high as $450,000 — so she doesn't have to pay for the pricey legal action. Instead, the government of Manitoba will have to pay.

 

The 14-year-old Jehovah's Witness, identified only as A.C., received a court-ordered blood transfusion in 2006 at a Winnipeg hospital to treat internal bleeding from her bowel associated with Crohn's disease.

 

The girl and her parents opposed the transfusion based on their religious belief that the Bible forbids ingesting blood.

 

A.C. had signed an advanced medical directive stating she didn't want a blood transfusion. Three psychiatrists who assessed her all concluded she understood her medical condition and the consequences of not getting a transfusion.

 

But under Manitoba law, people under the age of 16 can be given medical treatment against their will.

 

Doctors contacted Child and Family Services, which apprehended A.C. as "a child in need of protection." After lawyers for the child welfare agency successfully obtained an order from Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench, the girl was given three units of blood.

 

"There almost are no words to say just how brutal of an act it is. I once compared it to almost being raped. There are no options for you, there's nothing you can do about it and it's very hard to deal with," the girl told CBC.

 

"It was very heart-breaking just to have all my decisions taken away from me, especially with my strong beliefs on not taking blood and knowing that it wasn't even necessary and to have a judge who didn't even speak to me at all. I never got to tell him anything about what I wanted. It was very, very emotional."

 

The Manitoba Court of Appeal had also unanimously upheld the imposed transfusion.

 

Your thoughts on this? I don't think the court should have been allowed to force the transfusion since both the child AND the parents were against it. I could see a stronger case for forced treatment of the child (14 years old) didn't want the transfusion but her parents did.

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Your thoughts on this? I don't think the court should have been allowed to force the transfusion since both the child AND the parents were against it. I could see a stronger case for forced treatment of the child (14 years old) didn't want the transfusion but her parents did.

 

I don't think this carries much weight, since the child will often share the parents' beliefs, because they have not been extensively exposed to any alternatives. I mean, if your family dinners are spent discussing how big of a sin it is to receive a blood transfusion and how anyone who gets one will be struck by lightning, you are probably bound to think the same way for as long as you continue to live there.

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I don't think this carries much weight, since the child will often share the parents' beliefs, because they have not been extensively exposed to any alternatives. I mean, if your family dinners are spent discussing how big of a sin it is to receive a blood transfusion and how anyone who gets one will be struck by lightning, you are probably bound to think the same way for as long as you continue to live there.

 

+1 :)

 

(*rushes to post this in fb newsfeed* :P)

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This one is sticky, because the patient (who would have been 11 or 12 at the time of transfusion if she is 14 now) wouldn't have the facilities to make an ethical decision based on her beliefs, if only because her beliefs have not yet full formed. Some may argue that it's completely reasonable to think she had a well developed moral compass, but give me a break, this is the age when people are fixated on yoyos and pokemon.

 

Since the patient isn't competent to make a decision, and there are laws prohibiting parents from keeping life-saving treatments from their children (someone else can elaborate on this below), the ethical solution is to resort to asking the question 'what would a reasonable person want?' Surely a reasonable person would want their life to be saved.

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This one is sticky, because the patient (who would have been 11 or 12 at the time of transfusion if she is 14 now) wouldn't have the facilities to make an ethical decision based on her beliefs, if only because her beliefs have not yet full formed. Some may argue that it's completely reasonable to think she had a well developed moral compass, but give me a break, this is the age when people are fixated on yoyos and pokemon.

 

Since the patient isn't competent to make a decision, and there are laws prohibiting parents from keeping life-saving treatments from their children (someone else can elaborate on this below), the ethical solution is to resort to asking the question 'what would a reasonable person want?' Surely a reasonable person would want their life to be saved.

 

Age is such a subjective measure of maturity...I'm witnessing it in my own family right now. My 13-year-old brother is light-years behind where I was at his age. My 10-year old sister is probably more mature than he is.

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Age is such a subjective measure of maturity...I'm witnessing it in my own family right now. My 13-year-old brother is light-years behind where I was at his age. My 10-year old sister is probably more mature than he is.

 

It's true, the doc definitely should have used his maturity meter.

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I don't think this carries much weight, since the child will often share the parents' beliefs, because they have not been extensively exposed to any alternatives. I mean, if your family dinners are spent discussing how big of a sin it is to receive a blood transfusion and how anyone who gets one will be struck by lightning, you are probably bound to think the same way for as long as you continue to live there.

 

I have always had a hard time considering at all the parents beliefs in such matters. We let parents make decisions about children's medical choice because we believe that:

a) the child is unable due to lack of maturity full understand all the choices presented

B) of all the agents in the world we could chose, parents are presumed most likely have the child's best interests in mind.

 

Parents don't actually have a fundemental right to make decisions for this children (in my opinion). They are just the appointed legal guardians.

 

When B) is shown not be the case then it is the responsiblity of the courts to remove their responsiblities in such matters and select an alternative agent who will work in their best interests. When a) is not correct (the child actual is mature enough) then he or she can make the choice for themselves.

 

Deciding a) or B) is often hard which is why we have a court system with highly trained people, just as doing heart surgery is hard which is why we have surgeons.

 

The only problem is you have to trust the courts but I trust a transparent legal fight way more than I trust a lot of parents :)

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I think you also have to err on the side of caution when determining someone's maturity to decide their own death. You better be sure about yourself if you think an 11 year old is mature enough to refuse medical care.

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Jehovah's will be fighting this and causing a ruckus over this till the end of time. The fact is that life is our society's highest priority next to freedom, where with Jehovah's staying true to the rules of their religion tops both life and freedom.

 

 

While you may being able to convincingly argue to me that 16year olds or older may actually have experienced enough in the world to have made decisions for themselves and have gone through the phase where they rebel against their parent's decisions and start to make their own beliefs and decisions about life and the world.

 

A fourteen year old has only experienced what her family, friends and community has socialized her into. Being jehovah that means that she has been socialized by her family that Jehovah is right, by her friends that Jehovah is right, and by her community that Jehovah is right.

 

The poor child hasn't been given any alternatives, she has had fourteen years of being told that not that jehovah is a way of life but that it is the way of life and they do not accept family members doing otherwise.

 

 

I believe that this is a 14yr old girl who can speak eloquently and has advanced speaking and english skills. I do not believe that she is mature enough to have made decisions for herself and she is only trying to fight for what everyone else has told her is the one true way.

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The poor child hasn't been given any alternatives, she has had fourteen years of being told that not that jehovah is a way of life but that it is the way of life and they do not accept family members doing otherwise.

 

I think the above (could be) true, however I do empathize with the girl being forced to do something she doesn't want to her body. That would feel very violating. I know people who would put religion before their own life, so I can understand how upset the family is. However, how can you know if once the girl is an adult she would have kept this opinion? How do you know the parents have shown her all the options? Its just a tough situation, but I think the courts did the right thing.

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