In Praise of South Africa
Right to life takes precedence over the right to religion
February 20 2009 at 06:13AM
By Kanina Foss
A 12-year-old Jehovah’s Witness girl has received a life-saving blood transfusion that she did not want after a Johannesburg High Court order gave doctors the go-ahead.
The girl, who suffers from leukaemia, was admitted to Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital on Tuesday. Despite being told that a blood transfusion was needed to save her life, the girl and her parents refused to consent to the procedure.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that it’s against God’s will to take other people’s blood, or one’s own blood that has been stored, into one’s body.
The official website of Watchtower, a Jehovah’s Witness organisation to which The Star was referred by the Jehovah’s Witnesses of South Africa, says: “True Christians will not accept a blood transfusion. They want to live, but they will not try to save their life by breaking God’s laws.”
The Gauteng Department of Health said doctors consulted the girl’s parents and church elders to explain the need for the transfusion. When their explanations were rejected, they brought an urgent application before the High Court on Wednesday.
The court order was issued on the same day, and the girl was given a transfusion immediately.
According to Department of Health spokesperson Phumelele Kaunda, the parents respected the court’s decision.
The girl is doing well.
SA Human Rights Commission chairperson Jody Kollapen said that in such cases, the right to life took precedence over the right to religion.
He said adults were regarded as fit to make informed decisions about their own bodies, but in the case of a child, state intervention was sometimes necessary.
South Africa should indeed be praised for doing the right thing – saving an innocent child’s life rather than giving in to the unfounded religious beliefs of her parents. It is a sad state of affairs when a child can be brainwashed into believing that death is preferable to a simpe blood transfusion procedure. We must not allow superstition to claim the lives of such children, and South Africa got it exactly right: the right to life takes precedence over the right to religion.
The Threat of Christian Fascism is Hidden, but Very Real
For more on fascism:
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, by Chris Hedges
Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, by Michelle Goldberg
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