Ok...so for those who didn’t read our last blog on Religion & Euthanasia here is a quick recap of the case before we move on:
A 14 year old boy from Seattle who was diagnosed with leukemia in early November 2007 died at the end of that month after refusing a blood transfusion (citing religious beliefs-Jehovah’s Witness). The state took legal action and attempted to force the boy to have a blood transfusion, but the Supreme Court denied the motion and the boy died shortly thereafter. The judge felt that the boy was mature enough to make decisions regarding the type of medical treatment that he received and also felt that he was not being coerced by anyone in any sort of fashion. The judge also said that the boy knew he was basically giving himself a death sentence by refusing the blood transfusion.
Alright, so now that everyone is caught up...here is the new twist:
At the time the boy was residing with his Aunt in Seattle. His aunt had custody of him and she was also a Jehovah’s Witness. His birth parents however, were not Jehovah’s Witnesses and they wanted him to have the blood transfusion. They felt that his decision to refuse the blood transfusion was a result of his aunt influencing him and they even went to the hearing in an attempt to change the judge’s decision. Did the parents have a valid point? Should they of had a say in the medical treatment for their son?
What this case shows is how difficult these cases can get when you are talking about ‘children’ making decision regarding their medical treatment. Not all kids follow the same religion of their parents and it makes these cases so tough when there are differences in religious views. Depending on the location, you are usually considered an adult between 16 & 18 and your parents are basically in control of you until then....from a legal standpoint. So how come at 14 you can make major decisions regarding medical treatment? You would think that this type of privilege (or right depending on your viewpoint) would come when you are granted the rest of your major privileges like drinking, licence, etc. Now we’re not saying that the judge was right or wrong in this case, we just feel that the ruling may be a little incongruent with the other laws or rights that are given to kids once they pass a certain age. The issue of his parents being against the ruling is another issue.
First and foremost, they do not have custody of the boy so in the legal world their opinions would count for less when compared to the opinion of the aunt. However, they are still his birth parents and they probably cared for his well-being. Personally, I do not know how I would feel in this type of case. I’d probably be really upset that my child was allowed to make this type of life altering decision without my consent. For a parent that must be hard to have to sit by and watch as your child basically gives themself a death sentence. Thoughts??