Daily Mail reports that an unidentified young girl, whose name cant be revealed for legal reasons, has refused to have a recommended lifesaving medical treatment.
The transfusion was recommended because of her small stature (44kg) which doctors fear may lead to hemorrhage during childbirth. The 17-year-old is 39 weeks pregnant with a baby girl.
Rejecting this potential lifesaving plan for her baby, she told doctors at Victoria's Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne in Australia: "If the baby has to die, she has to die."
Her response is in line with the religious group's beliefs. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Bible forbids blood transfusion. This is backed by certain Biblical passages such as: "Only flesh with its soul - its blood - you must not eat" (Genesis 9:3–4); "[You must] pour its blood out and cover it with dust" (Leviticus 17:13–14); and "Abstain from… fornication and from what is strangled and from blood" (Acts 15:19–21).
For this group, this is a non-negotiable religious doctrine. It was first introduced in 1945.
Jehovah's Witness case goes to court
Her case was taken before the Supreme Court in August 2018. Presenting the case to the Victorian Supreme Court, Dr. Jacqueline van Dam said that the teen is "very quiet and polite and appears to rely on her mother to answer questions".
Told about the risk of blood loss during labor, the doctor said the teen replied: "I do not want blood." The doctor added that the teen "seems to be of average intellect but is immature" and "believes naively that all will be well and that if anything happens she will be protected by her faith".
Associate Professor Campbell Paul, a child psychiatrist at The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, also shared his experience with the teenager. After spending time with the 17-year-old, he told the court that she told him: "The Bible says it's wrong to eat or drink blood if you lose blood and have to let it go and pour it out on the floor."
According to him, she later added: "If the baby has to die, she has to die."
The pregnant teenager's mother pleaded with the court to respect her daughter's wishes. In a statement read to the court, she said, "Being forced to have that done against her will would be something like having violence done to her or being raped. She wants to do the right thing by Jehovah, by God."
After hearing both sides, News.com reports that Justice Cameron Macaulay ruled against the teen. He explained that he came to this decision after weighing the teenager's level of maturity and understanding.
In his words, "I am not convinced that overriding her expressed choice would so rob her of her essential self as to outweigh the loss she would suffer through losing her life or sustaining a catastrophic injury.
"In summary, I do not consider that allowing her, in effect, to choose to die or only survive with serious injury is in her best interests taking into account a holistic view of her welfare (physical, spiritual and otherwise)."
After forcing the hospital to promise to first use strategies that do not require blood transfusion, Justice Macaulay authorised the hospital to administer blood or blood products "as considered reasonably necessary by two registered medical practitioners to save her life or to prevent serious injury during the course of induction of labour, labour, caesarean section and related procedures and the post-natal period in regard to her current pregnancy".