BC Blood Bath

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
There’s a big battle brewing in BC and it isn’t over granola, timber, seafood, or Mary Jane. It’s a battle of blood. As most of the Canadian readers will know by now, this week a woman in BC gave birth to Canada’s first set of sextuplets. Yes folks, that’s six (6) babies all at once. And yes, it has been revealed (no surprise here) that she had undergone fertility treatments. The babies were born at just 25 weeks so they’re very underdeveloped and will require substantial medical treatment.

I’m sure I’ll get some flack back about this but I’m of the opinion that some people are just not meant to have children. That isn’t necessarily to say that they shouldn’t be allowed to be parents but for whatever reason, nature has decided that they’re not able to conceive without a LOT of help from modern medicine. There are thousands of children out there who need a family to love and care for them and yet people feel the need to take massive amounts of hormones to increase their chances of getting pregnant and as a result, they often have multiple births. Sextuplets? Humans don’t have sextuplets naturally. Sure we have twins, and occasionally triplets but the possibility of having more than that is so astronomical that it’s impossible. The world is overpopulated enough already and yet this woman and her husband were so desperate to have a baby of “their own” that they ended up getting 6 new mouths to feed and put a strain on the planet’s resources. Granted, chances are that not all of the babies will survive but you get the idea. I know that adopting is not easy, and choosing to love another person’s child is much more difficult than your own offspring, but doesn’t that make it that much more special? I’m starting to rant again and this wasn’t the reason behind this post so I’ll leave it at that.

Back to the blood battle…the parents of the sextuplets are Jehovah’s Witnesses. JW’s do not believe in blood transfusions (which these little guys are pretty much guaranteed to need). The spokesperson for the JW’s (the organization, not the family) states that they want the best treatment possible for the babies but without the use of blood. In my opinion, if the family choses to follow the tenants of their faith and refuse transfusions for their children (which they worked so hard to get in the first place), they are guaranteeing that they will not survive.

Mark Ruge, the JWs spokesperson, says “the bible makes it ‘very clear that one is to abstain from blood’ even if it is life-saving. I have a problem with this. Remember that at the time the various books of the Bible were written, people didn’t have the same level of medical knowledge or technology that we have today. They couldn’t have known at that time about transfusions, platelets, red blood cells, etc. or the benefits of receiving these. Times change and I believe religion has to change with it.

Please don’t think that I’m poo-pooing their religion. People are free to believe whatever they wish and affiliate themselves with the religious organization of their choice (if they choose to belong to one at all). Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Hindis, Buddhists, Mormons, JWs. It doesn’t matter to me as long as it doesn’t infringe upon anyone else’s human rights – worship as you see fit. But what about those children? They didn’t ask to be born, let alone so prematurely. Should the government step in and provide the care that the medical community says they need and disregard the wishes of the parents, their caregivers? It’s a tough decision and one I’m certainly not able nor willing to make. If the government does step in, what’s to stop them from interfering in other major life decisions?


Candy Minx said...

Well, there are a lot of things and ethics going on in your observations and in their, the families, motives.

I find it terrible convenient that the family would take medical intervention for conception...but not for life saving blood transfusions.

This is a lovely example of our selective belief systems and how we interpret our various faiths and beliefs.

I don't really feel bad if a family wants to try some seemingly severe methods to conceive...I feel sacrifice, aid in health care is a part of being human and an animal...we have midwives and doctors give us all kinds of treatments for aiding us in conceiving children...a small example would be taking folic acid in vitamins in order to reduce our chances of spinabifida in babies...

We have abortion, the right for women to choose to be pregnant or not...so why shouldn't a challenged set of parents be able to make "CHOICE" to become pregnant...I see them as extensions or flip sides of the same coin.

You have some excellent fascinating opinions here and I look forward to coming back and reading other peoples responses...not a simple black and white issue by any means. Good post Karen, thought provoking!

(sorry I wasn't around lately...lots of commitments and errands couldn't get online much last two weeks but I'm back and around...)

Wandering Coyote said...

Of course I've heard the story but not the part about the blood transfusions. I think its counterproductive to get medically assisted conception then deprive the product of that intervention with vital, lifesaving medical technology. Most faiths have to go through a period of self-examination in order to grow, but the most fundamentalist ones seem unprepared to do this. Why? Move with the times. Candy is right; this is selective beliefs at work here and it's not right.

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