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Dying For Nothing At 14

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Dying For Nothing At 14
The belief, sans evidence, in god, and all the trimmings, is often anything but harmless. The is one of those cases. A 14-year-old boy, a Jehovah's witness refuses a blood transfusion and dies; his death sentence being his indoctrination in primitive, irrational beliefs:

Earlier Wednesday, Skagit County Superior Court Judge John Meyer had denied a motion by the state to force the boy to have a blood transfusion. The judge said the eighth-grader knew “he’s basically giving himself a death sentence.”

“I don’t believe Dennis’ decision is the result of any coercion. He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision,” the judge said during the hearing. “I don’t think Dennis is trying to commit suicide. This isn’t something Dennis just came upon, and he believes with the transfusion he would be unclean and unworthy.”

Doctors had given Dennis a 70 percent chance of surviving the next five years with the transfusions and other treatment, the judge added.

Doctors diagnosed the boy’s leukemia in early November. They began chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital, but stopped a week ago because his blood count was too low, the Skagit Valley Herald reported. The boy refused the transfusion on religious grounds.

However, his birth parents, Lindberg and Rachel Wherry, who do not have custody and flew from Boise, Idaho, to be at the hearing, believed their son should have had the transfusion and suggested he had been unduly influenced by his aunt, who is also a Jehovah’s Witness.

The aunt has declined to talk about the case.

I bet she has. Hmm, wonder why the parents didn't have custody, don't you?

Cancer surgeon/researcher blogger Orac writes:

In this case, the court in essence allowed a 14-year-old boy to commit suicide for his religion, about which representatives of his religion could only say:
After the judge's ruling, Jim Nelson, chairman of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Seattle Hospital Liaison Committee, said Lindberg was a "very responsible young man who knows his mind and was very clear. He's a very brave young man, and he's standing firm for what he believes in." Jehovah's Witnesses believe the Bible prohibits transfusions of blood, in part because blood is sacred, Nelson said.

And it doesn't mean the faith is "antimedicine," he added. "Jehovah's Witnesses do not have a death wish. We're not arguing a right to die."

What a crock. That's exactly what they are arguing, and their defense of how Nelson's religion indoctrinated Dennis to the point where he threw away his life away for no good reason sickens me. They're arguing in essence to allow minors to commit suicide unnecessarily for their religion. I've discussed the specific Biblical passages that Jehovah's Witnesses use to justify their irrational refusal of life-saving transfusions. For adults, I support that right as part and parcel of freedom of religion. I may consider refusing transfusions based on a tortured interpretation of a few lines of scripture to be the height of irrationality, but adults have the right to be irrational in making their health care choices. When it comes to children, I'm much less tolerant.

This is like the Abraham Cherrix case, that both Orac and I blogged on. As I wrote about the tough question in that case -- tough, because I believe in self-determination: "How far should self-determination go for a teen? Should you be sentenced to death because you're stupid, or just not rigorous enough a thinker (how many kids are at 16?) to understand that you're probably going to die if you drink some herbal tonic instead of doing chemo for your cancer?"

thanks, Gretchen!