In a story that should break the heart of all compassionate humans everywhere, a Jehovah’s Witness mother, Emma Gough, died a month ago after refusing a blood transfusion. The loss is devastating, especially for her newborn twins and husband. The publicity given to the case, and to the Canadian sextuplets case-- three of whom were seized and given the lifesaving transfusions-- has caused a battle between medical institutions and the Jehovah's Witnesses. The group believes blood transfusion to be unbiblical, even in lifesaving cases. The government reserves the right to seize a child and give him/her a transfusion if is the only option for life. Unfortunately doctors cannot perform the same lifesaving procedure on an adult who chooses to abstain from blood This the freedom of religion and people are entitled to that for themselves. But the guilt, shame, and social pressures that keep Witnesses from taking blood change the nature of refusal. The JW Church should be held accountable for this, allowing each person to clearheadedly choose blood or not.
Rachel Underhill, former Witness, claims religious leaders put Witnesses in a mental state in which they cannot make decisions. She has started an on-line sanctuary for those leaving the Witnesses, especially for safer medical reasons and clearer thinking. Her website, exjw-reunited, is full of respite. She had a similar situation, nearly dying in the birth of her twins. She says of it,
“I can even remember the anaesthetist waving her arms up and down saying, ‘Do you realise you are going to die, do you realise you are going to leave your babies motherless?’. I was terrified. But because of the religion I was brought up in, because of what I had been told to do, and because I was not in a fit mental state to change my mind, I refused to accept blood....
“I suspect the Jehovah’s Witness Hospital Liaison Committee was there when [Gough] went, ensuring she did not have a transfusion, offering an alternative, in this case useless suggestions, stipulating to her and her husband what should and should not be done, instead of letting medics do the job they are supposed to do — save lives.”