Jehovah’s Witness Girl Missing After Court Orders Blood Transfusion
A 14-year-old Canadian Jehovah’s Witness has disappeared after a court ruled doctors can force her to get a blood transfusion in violation of her faith.
Missing girl who is a Jehovah’s Witness, needs blood transfusion (Medical News Today)
Police in Canada say they are looking for a girl who has disappeared with her parents after a court ruled she must accept a possible blood transfusion after receiving chemotherapy. The girl is 14 and has cancer (a cancerous tumour in her leg). She is a Jehovah’s Witness, as are her parents. The girl does not want a blood transfusion. People who follow the Jehovah’s Witness faith oppose blood transfusions.
The girl, who cannot be named, is part of an ongoing legal battle. When a cancer patient has chemotherapy, the body is often unable to produce enough red blood cells – a blood transfusion is a common part of treatment. The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that doctors are authorised to give the girl a blood transfusion if her life is under threat.
Canadian police have been instructed to find the girl. The girl’s lawyer says she is seeking a second medical opinion and has not gone into hiding. The province of British Columbia does not recognize an individual of an age less than 19 to be able to make an informed consent medical decision. The Children’s Aid Society was informed and did not object to the family leaving the province to get another medical opinion.
I would tend to agree that a 14-year-old lacks the maturity to make such decisions. Even beyond the age issue, there are no easy answers in balancing societal norms against the rights of out-of-mainstream religious sects that reject basic premises of modernity.
Update (0627): So much for the extensive manhunt:
A cancer-stricken B.C. Jehovah’s Witness girl who’s fighting a blood transfusion order will appear in an Ontario court on Tuesday.
While Brady didn’t return phone calls from CTV News Toronto, he did send out a fax saying reports the girl needed an urgent transfusion were “grossly unfounded.” He said B.C. child care officials knew the family was seeking a second medical opinion in Toronto at the Hospital for Sick Children. They hope to find an alternative treatment to a blood transfusion. However, they left when the hospital urged them to return to B.C. for treatment, CTV News Toronto’s Janice Golding reported. The girl and her parents were last seen in a west Toronto neighborhood.
Brady told The Canadian Press that authorities such as the Children’s Aid Society knew his client’s whereabouts. There is an apprehension order issued by the B.C. courts which remains on police computers, but Toronto police have said they aren’t actively seeking the girl. Brady said the girl and her parents will be in court Tuesday.