Doctors, Judges, and Jehovah’s Witnesses
BACK in March 1995, Jehovah’s Witnesses sponsored two seminars in Brazil. The purpose? To seek the cooperation of medical and legal personnel when a hospital patient is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and cannot accept a blood transfusion.—Acts 15:29.
Sadly, in some cases doctors had ignored the wishes of Witness patients and had sought to obtain court orders to force a blood transfusion. In such situations the Witnesses used whatever legal means were available to protect themselves. Nevertheless, they preferred cooperation to confrontation. Thus, the seminars emphasized that there are many alternatives to homologous blood transfusion therapy and that Jehovah’s Witnesses gladly accept these.*
A meeting of the Regional Council of Medicine of São Paulo had already supported the Witnesses’ position. In January 1995 it decided that if there is an objection to a doctor’s recommended treatment, the patient has the right to refuse it and to choose another doctor.
Commendably, there are now hundreds within Brazil’s medical community who are willing to administer nonblood treatment to their patients who request it. Since the March 1995 seminars, cooperation between doctors, judges, and Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brazil has improved remarkably. In 1997 the Brazilian medical magazine Âmbito Hospitalar published an article that insisted on the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to have their stand on the blood issue respected. It is now widely recognized that, as stated by the Regional Councils of Medicine for the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, “the doctor’s duty to protect his patient’s life should not transcend his duty to defend the patient’s right of choice.”
For more information, see the brochure How Can Blood Save Your Life?, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.