A Matter of Grave Concern

A couple of days ago in my ethics class, the topic of children’s rights came up.  I asked if parents have absolute power over their kids, or if children have rights which the state should, when necessary, intervene to protect.  As an example, I pointed out that some parents don’t believe in blood transfusions, and would rather let their children die.  This, of course, tends to be on religious grounds, with Jehovah’s Witnesses being the primary offenders.  Well, it turned out that one of my female students happens to be a JW, and I think she mentioned previously that she is pregnant, but that may or may not be the case.  At any rate, she stated that she does not believe in transfusions, and would not allow her child to have one.  Class ended, but at our next session, other students wanted to pick up the discussion.  I am cognizant of the fact that in my official capacity, I am a “state actor,” and have to be careful how I respond to matters of religion (this is NOT to say that I respect silly beliefs, but that I respect limitations placed on my by the first amendment).  So I tried the Socratic approach — asking her where her beliefs come from.  Well, the bible, of course.  But how do you know which parts of the bible to follow — doesn’t the bible say that women should cover their hair?  Well, some parts of the bible have been superceded.  How do you know which ones?  Well, of course, the Watchtower society makes that decision.

About this time, one of the more naive students asked her what biblical passage prohibits blood transfusions (and it really doesn’t anyway — the biblical authors knew nothing about blood transfusion or other modern medical procedures).  She looked up the passage, and the little naif immediately said, “Oh, I guess I can respect that!”

RESPECT it?  How does one respect delusional nonsense that can, and has, led to the death of a child?  This idea that we have to respect religious nonsense has got to go.  It is one thing to respect a person’s humanity, but not all ideas are the same.  Some are just not respectable.  If the JW student in question lost a child because she refused it a blood transfusion, I don’t know if she would be guilty of murder because it was not out of malice, but certainly of manslaughter or something similar.  As for the jerks at the Watchtower Society, they should spend the rest of their lives in jail for the harm they have wrought.  This isn’t merely hypothetical: children have actually died because they were refused blood transfusions.  I say “they were refused” because as minors, they cannot make such decisions for themselves, and this is clearly a case where parents are so dangerously delusional they are in no position to speak for their children.

If an adult wishes to be a fool, let her.  But the idea that she can force her deadly nonsense on her helpless child is outrageous.

2 thoughts on “A Matter of Grave Concern

  1. It is “interesting” that this JW doctrine dates from 1945 which seems odd if the JW’s are convinced that the bible is the authority in everything. I wonder what provoked this “revelation” more than 2,000 years after the Jesus character and perhaps 3,000 years after the Old Testament where the supposed support is found in Genesis and Leviticus. A little slow in coming I would say. I would agree that the parent’s should be held accountable for a crime against their child if they abide by this “teaching”.

    I’m puzzled as to why a young JW is even in college. The Watchtower discourages higher education for a variety of reasons, the chief being that the limited time left on this earth (the end times are coming any day now) should be spent doing god’s work and such. She is wasting precious time on stuff that won’t matter and could corrupt and tempt her. I know you can’t really press this with her in your position. It would be interesting if another student looked up the JW’s and posed the questions.

    It would be interesting to know what she expects to accomplish and, if she is married, does she have her husband’s approval? If not married, her father’s approval? Women in the JW’s are to always be submissive to the men. The questions just keep piling up. JW’s are typically below average in economic success because they usually lack education needed for higher paying jobs. I wonder if this woman is rejecting the teachings in hopes of securing a better life for herself and her child? If so, how would refusing a blood transfusion fit into things? If she’s already ignoring the church some of the time, why not in this case? There is a small group of JW’s who apparently already do this.

  2. Ok, this is nothing but a massive red herring. It may be the case that sometimes blood transfusions are unnecessary, but other times they are absolutely essential. The point of this discussion is that in some cases children are being refused necessary transfusions because of their parents wooish and nonsensical religious delusions. Children have DIED because of their parents intransigence. Let’s not play games here.

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