There are 2 news stories in the UK at the moment which on the surface may seem similar but are however being treated completely differently.

The first concerns a 22 year old sickle cell anaemia sufferer whom doctors had been informed they must allow die. He was a Jehovah Witness and it is therefore against his religion to accept a blood transfusion even though it would have probably saved his life. The doctors had to stand aside and allow him to die in agony knowing that they could have save him if they were allowed to intervene.

The other concerns Tony Nicklinson who suffers from an incurable disease known as “locked in syndrome”. He had a stroke seven years ago and is paralysed but with all his mental faculties intact. He is an Atheist and has made it clear (through his wife) that he wishes to be allowed to die with dignity rather than spend more years trapped in his own body. He says he does not think the moral objections of others should be used against his case. If he was in the same hospital as the Jehovah Witness and the same doctors ended his life then they could be prosecuted for murder.

While both cases are tragic it does show how religious views given special status over those of the secular world. I know we have had a few discussions on morality recently but where is it here? I think we should look to the Ethical view instead and leave the objective morality compass aside. Would it have been ethical to save the JW against his wishes? Would it not be the ethical thing to do and allow Tony to die with dignity?

Jehovah Witness story

Tony Nicklinson story

Views: 159

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 19, 2012 at 6:31am
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on August 19, 2012 at 7:05am

I didn't see this blog when originally posted, Reg - but it sure makes for a great discussion.

I'm not in favour of interfering with religious people who refuse medical care because of their cult's dogma unless they are refusing medical care for their children.  I figure once you are 18 and refusing life saving medical intervention, you are too far gone to be worth saving.

The right to die, however, is one that I cherish and it disgusts me that anyone in this world feels it is their business to revoke that right.  Killing yourself is not easy by any means - and I'm smarter than your average bowling pin.  The problem is that you don't want to end up brain damaged and living a nightmare like Tony.  It's disgusting that humans are left to really humiliating, horrifying scenarios when trying to leave this life.

Comment by James Cox on August 19, 2012 at 11:02am

Maybe I value life a little more than necessary.

The JW guy seems waco, while the Atheist fellow seems to have made a 'reasonable' choice given the present state of medical technology and his tolerance for disability.

I have been around the JW crew several times, even did bible study with one family years ago, they seem to have some fixation on 'blood'. I understand that their hangups are old testiment based, and not scienced based. Maybe someone should help them over their sqemish phobia? It is costing them. 

I have taken my share of blood over the years, saved my life a few times. At the time I just thought it was 'cool'. After a few accidents and minor repairs, I am very happy it all mostly works. In spite of all the crazy I see at times, life seems the better choice.  


Comment by Becca on August 19, 2012 at 12:18pm

I think the doctors in these two cases should abide by the wishes of their patients and allow them both to die. Both patients are are adults; both patients are aware of the consequence of their choice.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 19, 2012 at 5:02pm

Tony Nicklinson is completely lucid and aware of what he is asking for. While I do understand the medical ethics (as opposed to any religious morals) behind the legal decision I still feel it is wrong that each case is not judged on its own merits as opposed to being subject to one overarching law. The law should never be a case of one size fits all. When he has no chance of any improvement in the quality of his life he deserves some “quality of mercy” from the law.
I am completely certain that I would like to be allowed to take my own life if I was ever in a similar situation. I would also assist someone to end their life if all legal and medical conditions were met to do so. 
Here is another link of his reaction to the judgement. Before you click on it I would like to say that it is upsetting. He has been like this for the last 7 years.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 19, 2012 at 5:13pm

As Tony says waiting for the appeal is waiting “to find out who controls my life – me or the State”.

Comment by VioLENTpreechr on August 20, 2012 at 12:55am

It should never be allowed to let the medical community/government force a person to get life-saving treatment if he or she doesn't want it.  Regardless of the reason.  That being said, it disgusts me we can euthanize a dog, but we can't help a person die if they want release from suffering.  The JW guy has every right to refuse treatment if he is of sound mind.  But I think of someone who is that caliber of a believer as delusional.  To refuse treatment because god wouldn't like it takes a special kind of crazy.  We need to allow assisted suicide/euthanasia, these are suffering humans, not dogs

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 20, 2012 at 7:52am

In the UK medical staff do not have an automatic right to overrule the wishes of those under the age of 18 or the wishes of the parents of minors if they refuse blood on the grounds of religion. There was a case in 2010 where a teenager died because of this stupidity.
If an ambulance delivered an unconscious JW to A&E who ended up getting a blood transfusion the Watchtower says that person should not be associated with by other JW members. Very Christian of them indeed!

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 20, 2012 at 9:02am

Hi Arch – yes very Old Testament treatment indeed. I recall that their “Blood Law” is mainly based on verses from the Pentateuch. While it might be considered an old book to us there are those who consider it a “modern classic” and as valid now as the day it was written.
I have had a conversation / debate with JW’s in my house on this subject. Their 3 year old son was with them (visit number nine – no Atheists don’t eat them) and they told me without blinking or with any hint of guilt or unease that not only would they not accept a blood transfusion themselves but that they would forbid the hospital from using other peoples blood - even their own - to help save their only son – as they put it. God’s will or part of his plan and all that bullshit. I had to leave the room to compose myself. Religion really does make good people do terrible things. I think their moral compass is so distorted that it must be sitting on a very warped magent.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on August 22, 2012 at 1:04pm


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