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Title Jehovah's Witnesses - The fight for the sextuplets
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The fight for the sextuplets February 15th, 2007 - It is common medical knowledge that fertility treatments often result in multiple pregnancies, that multiple pregnancies often result in severely premature birth and that severely premature infants often require blood transfusions. The behaviour of the British Columbia sextuplets parents, who are Jehovah s Witnesses, thus represents something of a perfect ethical, religious and medical storm. They likely employed fertility treatments: Hellin s Law approximates the odds of naturally born sextuplets at around one in five billion. They refused the common remedy of multifetal pregnancy reduction that is, aborting selected fetuses to improve the prospects of the others. And on religious grounds, they did not consent to the blood transfusions doctors deemed necessary. [...] On fertility treatments, it [the Jehovah Witnesses' church] is willing to look the other way. The Bible doesn t comment on that subject at all and in Bible times there was no such technology, Witness spokesperson Mark Ruge told the Canadian Press in January. On matters other than what s stipulated in the Bible, it s up to a person s conscience or their free choice. On blood transfusions, it s quite a different matter. It s not that the Witnesses claim that blood transfusions were being administered in Bible times ; rather, their beliefs rely on an apparently unique interpretation of a number of Bible verses. [...] Whatever the biblical merits, the legal precedent is certainly there for the sextuplets parents to be overruled. In 1995, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on a similar case that of baby S.B., who was born four weeks premature and whose custody was temporarily awarded to the Toronto Children s Aid Society so that transfusions could be administered. The judges conceded that the court s actions had deprived S.B. s parents of their right to decide which medical treatment should be administered to their infant and in so doing infringed upon the parental liberty protected in s. 7 of the Charter. But they decided that the infringement was in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Justices Cory, Iacobucci and Major went further. While the right to liberty embedded in s. 7 may very well permit parents to choose among equally effective types of medical treatment for their children, it does not include a parents [sic] right to deny a child medical treatment that has been adjudged necessary by a medical professional and for which there is no legitimate alternative, they argued. [...] Not all Witnesses are on board with their church s positions. There is not uniform acceptance of the Watch Tower s blood doctrine among Jehovah s Witnesses, the Associated Jehovah s Witnesses for Reform on Blood argues. The Watch Tower organization promotes a myth when it argues that all Jehovah s Witnesses hold the same conviction on this point of doctrine. With such reformers having failed to gain much of a foothold, though, it appears the church will go down fighting on the sextuplets. This is a summary extract from the full article as it appeared on Macleans.ca, Feb 9, 2007 Full Article