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Watchtower softens position on Jehovah' Witnesses and blood transfusions? Canadian National Post Story.

    Balaamsass posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 07:25:16 GMT(12/22/2012)

    Post 1364 of 1895
    Joined 10/30/2011

    Without fanfare, Jehovah’s Witnesses quietly soften position on blood transfusions

    Tom Blackwell, National Post Staff | Dec 20, 2012 9:59 PM ET
    More from National Post Staff

    Calgary Herald/Files Calgary Herald/Files Lawrence Hughes broke with the Witnesses, and the rest of his own family, when it tried to prevent his teenage daughter, Bethany, who died in 2002, from receiving a blood transfusion while being treated for cancer.

    For years, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ fiercely held belief that blood transfusions are contrary to God’s will led to emotional and very public disputes, hospitals clashing with parents over whether to infuse sick children.

    That long history of messy legal confrontations appears to be vanishing, however, amid changing approaches to the issue on both sides, health-care officials say.

    The church’s ban on accepting blood still stands, but some major pediatric hospitals have begun officially acknowledging the parents’ unorthodox beliefs, while many Jehovah’s Witnesses are signing letters recognizing that doctors may sometimes feel obliged to transfuse, they say.

    As institutions show more respect toward parents’ faith and try harder not to use blood, Witnesses often seem eager to avoid involving child-welfare authorities to facilitate transfusions, and more accepting that Canadian case law is firmly on the doctors’ side, some hospital officials say.

    “They get it that we’re going to transfuse where it’s medically necessary. They’ve lost that battle; they understand that,” said Andrea Frolic, a bioethicist at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont. “But it’s kind of an affront to their community to involve child-welfare services where there aren’t concerns about neglect, there aren’t concerns about abuse. … Part of the thing was ‘Just go on and do it. Why do we need to involve CAS [Children’s Aid Services]? It makes us feel like bad parents.’ ”

    Related

    Ms. Frolic made a presentation on her hospital’s two-year-old policy to the Canadian Society of Bioethics conference earlier this year and said several other children’s hospitals are following similar approaches.

    They include Sick Kids in Toronto and Montreal Children’s Hospital.

    To Calgary’s Lawrence Hughes, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness who fought a long court battle against the blood policy, the apparent changes are a sign that the Witnesses are fed up with the legal tussles, which he believes were unpopular with members and a strain on resources.

    Mr. Hughes broke with the Witnesses, and the rest of his own family, when it tried to prevent his teenage daughter, Bethany, who died in 2002, from receiving a blood transfusion while being treated for cancer.

    The turning point seemed to come in 2007, he argued. A Vancouver hospital had child-welfare officials seize some of the sextuplets born to a Jehovah’s Witness couple that year so doctors could give them blood. The church’s governing Watchtower Bible and Tract Society fought the move in a losing — and highly publicized — court battle.

    “I think that did them in. They couldn’t take it any more,” said Mr. Hughes. “I’ve been contacted by people who used to be in my congregation, and they left because of this [blood ban].”

    Mark Ruge, a spokesman for the Watchtower Society in Georgetown, Ont., said the church, which has branches throughout the world, has not altered its blood ban, though he said he could not account for the actions of individual families.

    David Gnam, one of the Witnesses’ lawyers who has handled many of the transfusion cases, also said there has been no official change in policy, though he is aware that some hospitals have patients sign forms.

    “I’ve been involved in cases representing Jehovah’s Witnesses patients and occasionally it’s been in everybody’s best interests to come to some sort of agreement between the parties,” he said. “But that’s just individual hospitals, doctors and patients.”

    Still, evidence suggests that the number of cases that end up before a judge has dropped significantly. The Canlii website, which catalogues many Canadian court decisions, includes nine separate child blood-transfusion rulings from 2000 to 2007, but just three in the five years since then.

    Mikael Kjellstrom (Kjellstràm) /Calgary Herald / Files Mikael Kjellstrom (Kjellstràm) /Calgary Herald / Files Lawrence Hughes in 2006.

    The Witnesses’ conviction that agreeing to transfusions of whole blood can lead to damnation, officially adopted in 1945, stems from various Bible verses that call on followers to “abstain from” blood.

    Disputes arise when parents refuse transfusions on behalf of children below the age of consent. Hospitals in the past typically approached child-welfare authorities, who asked the courts for an order giving them temporary custody so they can ensure the transfusion is administered.

    Toronto’s Sick Kids now will go to “all lengths” to find alternatives to transfusing blood when Jehovah’s Witnesses voice their opposition, said Rebecca Bruni, a bioethicist at the hospital. It also asks parents to sign a letter of understanding — drafted with the help of one of the church’s hospital liaison committees — that says the institution recognizes their religious objections and will try to avoid transfusions if at all possible. The letter is not a consent form, but adds that where the child is at imminent risk of serious harm or death, medical staff will press ahead with the transfusion.

    “What is beautiful about this is that it’s a symbolic way of embodying respect and dignity and when we do this, we don’t need to call Children’s Aid, which can be messy and ugly.”

    McMaster Children’s Hospital has a similar letter of understanding, recognizing that providing a blood transfusion can be traumatic when “it has potentially eternal consequences,” said Ms. Frolic.

    McGill Children’s Hospital in Montreal has had such a protocol for about a decade, and found that it brought about a “real, significant drop” in conflicts, said Lori Seller, a clinical ethicist at the facility.

    All the ethicists stress, as well, that some Jehovah’s Witnesses do not agree with the blood ban, but are anxious that their green light to transfusion be kept confidential.

    “Some families are really more concerned about other Jehovah’s Witnesses finding out they consented to the blood transfusion,” said Ms. Seller.

    National Post
    tblackwell@nationalpost.com

    F AnnOMaly posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 10:22:53 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    Very interesting article! Thanks for posting it

    DesirousOfChange posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 10:32:36 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    “Some families are really more concerned about other Jehovah’s Witnesses finding out they consented to the blood transfusion,” said Ms. Seller.

    Very true. They hope & pray they never are faced with a life & death decision about blood transfusion. If it came down to that, life & death, I think the majority would prefer to LIVE but keep it a secret.

    The ramifications are too "deadly".

    Doc

    cedars posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 10:36:24 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    A fascinating read.

    I found this part particularly interesting...

    The Canlii website, which catalogues many Canadian court decisions, includes nine separate child blood-transfusion rulings from 2000 to 2007, but just three in the five years since then.

    Now that's a significant reduction.

    Who knows, maybe dropping the blood ban will be the big story of 2013? Mind you, as others have commented before, doing this could well expose the Society to a raft of lawsuits from the families of those who died observing the doctrine. If it wasn't for that very real danger, the Society would doubtless of ditched the blood ban years ago.

    Cedars

    wasblind posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 11:13:39 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    I think the WS has already opened themselves up for trouble

    when they said to abstain from blood fractions in the Reasoning book

    Then stated in the Aug 2006 Awake that blood fractions are not mentioned in the bible so it's your choice

    Think of how many folk died between the time the Reasoning book

    and the Aug Awake 2006 mag was printed

    New light won't cover that mess, the bible is over 2000 years old

    And in all those meetin's they never notice the word " Blood fraction " was missin' ????

    .

    cedars posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 11:50:00 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    wasblind - great point. The Society has been moving the goalposts on the blood doctrine for years now - perhaps intentionally.

    It might be that the Society CAN ditch the blood ban without fear of significant legal reprisals. After all, what card-carrying Witness would dare to consider suing the Watchtower, their spiritual mother? They would be disfellowshipped in a heartbeat for "causing division" and failing to keep pace with "new light".

    Cedars

    Bobcat posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 12:53:55 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    I wonder if anyone from Canada can get a sample copy of this form (or type of form) that can be posted here. (And thus made available for JWs worldwide.) There are some neat ideas in this. Overuse of blood is dangerous too. This type thing seems to strike a nice middle ground for JW parents who don't agree with the Society but also face the Judicial realities that the WT imposes on them.

    My WT nose says that this is something the Society will try not to let out of Canada among the general Witness population. It might even be something they don't acknowledge until it becomes a necessity for an individual family.

    I also see the standard blood doctrine lie that they haven't changed positions on blood (aka fractions). Its all PR. 'We have always been the same, because we have always taught what the Bible says.'

    F wannaexit posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 13:12:41 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    Quote "David Gnam, one of the Witnesses’ lawyers who has handled many of the transfusion cases, also said there has been no official change in policy"

    What a liar-- how Gnam can say that after all the changes with fractions. LIAR LIAR

    M wha happened? posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 13:29:39 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    sounds to me more like individual members soften stand, the WT is still a no blood religion

    designs posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 13:35:07 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    Hospital Liason guys were just spies. Having lost a parent to the blood issue the Wt. can go sink in the East River.

    breakfast of champions posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 13:51:53 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    My read was that Jehovah's Witnesses - the Publishers, NOT Jehovah's Witnesses - the Organization, are the ones "softening."

    The writer evidently doesn't understand that this thing works top=>down, not bottom=>up.

    M wha happened? posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 14:46:10 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    from someone not in the know, (The writer), it would seem natural that the org would follow what the publishers prefer. He has no idea of the thought control imposed on them.

    Interesting how publishers view "sin". "Sin" apparently is only a "sin" if others in the hall know about it.

    wasblind posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 15:09:53 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    Blood products from humans and Bovine

    " Some manufacturers now process hemoglobin, releasing it from human or Bovine red blood cells.

    The end product is called a hemoglobin based oxygen carrier, or HBOC. Scince the heme is responsible

    for the rich red color of blood, a unit of HBOC looks just like a unit of red blood cells, the primary component

    from which it is taken.

    The HBOC can be stored at room temperature and used months later. HBOC is derived from blood,

    and carries out the key function of a primary component of blood, the red cells. Hemoglobin, from which

    the HBOC is derived, makes up a significant portion of that component"__________August Awake 2006 page 11 Grey box

    Bottom line : they now refer to blood parts as derivetives because it's more than a tiny fraction

    .

    wasblind posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 15:15:11 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    Y'all know what they say about a duck . You can say they same when it come to this HBOC

    M wha happened? posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 15:25:18 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    JW Dr's and Nurses must be biting their tongue in half

    Chaserious posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 15:45:05 GMT(12/22/2012)

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    I don't think they're dropping the blood ban, they are just signing forms that basically say "We don't want you do give my kid blood, but if it was serious enough where you would otherwise go to court, just do the blood instead of taking us to court; we know we would lose in court anyway." It's a loophole. Also, I think this is only for minors. Competent adults still have to die instead of taking blood if it comes down to it.

    Also - if they did change the blood policy they would face no legal liability in the U.S. Moral outrage, I would have to think, is another story.

    M wha happened? posted Sat, 22 Dec 2012 22:52:29 GMT(12/22/2012)

    Post 9659 of 10468
    Joined 10/2/2004

    if they did change the blood policy they would face no legal liability in the U.S.

    Not so sure about that. It's well documented that the ban on blood was real. It doesn't help printing magazines, telling of countless youth, dying for this principle.

    I beleive it would open them to lawsuits for this policy, only to pull a 180

    Finkelstein posted Sun, 23 Dec 2012 00:05:33 GMT(12/23/2012)

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    Also - if they did change the blood policy they would face no legal liability in the U.S.

    Not too sure about that !

    Being that the WTS. is responsible in encouraging certain human behaviors which resulted in pain and suffering in people,

    they may very well be held libel.

    Leading and encouraging people to act in giving up their life, may create wrongful death law suits against the WTS.

    Perhaps not so easy in the States with the free of religion act to hide behind but perhaps more so in other countries.

    MrFreeze posted Sun, 23 Dec 2012 00:09:23 GMT(12/23/2012)

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    The JW view of transfusions are downright bordering on some form of idol worship. They care more about the symbol of blood than what it is supposed to be a symbol of.

    zeb posted Sun, 23 Dec 2012 00:29:31 GMT(12/23/2012)

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    My condolences to the Lawrence Hughes family.

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