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Blood Transfusion for Jehovah Witness Baby - an Ethical Dilemma

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Blood Transfusion for Jehovah Witness baby - An Ethical Dilemma.

Ethics comes from the Greek work ethikos meaning disposition. Ethics explores the right or wrong of a decision or action, including the goodness or badness of motives and actions. (Noone, 2011). An Ethical Dilemma is described as a situation that involves a conflict between two moral choices. (Childress, 24/10/11). In this assignment I will discuss an Ethical Dilemma in which a Judge is faced with the decision whether or not to allow a Blood Transfusion to be carried out on a baby boy, when his parents, whom are part of the Jehovah Witness community, can not consent to the transfusion due to their religious beliefs.

In this assignment I will discuss the decision made by the Judge in relation to the baby boys best interests. Also I will discuss whether this decision was in the best interest of the parents and finally I will use Ethical principles to support the arguments.

A. The Baby Boy: In my professional opinion the Judge made the right decision in granting the hospital permission to carry out the Blood Transfusion. After the Judge was told by doctors that no alternatives to a transfusion were possible and that the baby was critically ill, it was up to the judge to make the decision based on ethical and legal circumstances. After the decision was made to proceed with the blood transfusion for the baby boy who was less than a year old, it was recorded that "the child's condition has improved since he is no longer critically ill" (Noone, 2011).

"The Principle of Paternalism states that where decisions can be taken on behalf of others, by those who have the best interest of others at heart, have all the facts/knowledge, superior training and insights."(Noone, 2011). It is evident from this statement that the doctors who were caring for the baby and also the Judge had no choice but to insist on the blood transfusion being carried out. The Judge was given the facts by the doctors who had been trained in the medical field and the Judge had to; by rules of the above principle take the baby's best interests into consideration.

Article three in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to Life, Liberty and Security of person. (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 25/10/11). This article suggests that the baby boy had the right to life and therefore it was the Judge's duty to grant the blood transfusion.

The rule of the Sanctity of Life is clear when it states that "The value of life exceeds all other values. No other value overrides the value of life except possibly more life." All lives are of equal value. No single life deserves priority over another, not even the fit, hopeful, and developed over the most vegetative, wretched, or immature. (Suber, 25/10/11).

In regards to the above statement the value of life is superior to the practicing of religion therefore the child's life had to be saved regardless of the religion that the parents practiced.

It is obvious from the article of which the information is given that the Judge most certainly acted in the baby's best interests. In the passage the Judge states that the state has "a vital interest in ensuring that children are protected" (Noone, 2011). The Judge stated that under the circumstances even Constitutional rights may be overseen.

According to the Child Care Act 1991 any proceedings before a court in relation to the care and protection of a child, the court shall "regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration" (Irish Statute Book, 25/10/11). Therefore the Judge did the correct thing in ordering the transfusion as the Child Care Act clearly states that the care of a child's welfare is paramount.

In the text the Judge states that "the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the free practice of religion". (Noone, 2011) Therefore this had to be taken into account when the judge was making the decision. Although the research on Jehovah Witnesses clearly states that members of the community can only be so, if they have chosen the religion for themselves and are of a certain maturity to know what the religion is. The child in this document was less than a year old and so could not possibly make the decision of whether or not he wanted the blood transfusion. The judge therefore acted on the baby's part and did the right thing in granting him a chance at life. Hence when the baby gets older he can then decide whether or not he wants to be a part of the Jehovah Witness community.

One of the Unspecified Rights of the Constitution states that everybody has the right to bodily integrity. It is a personal right and if the Judge would have denied the transfusion to take place he would have been in breach of this unspecified right.(The Constitution of Ireland, 25/10/11)

Article six in the Convention on the Rights of the Child suggests that every child under the age of eighteen, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth or social background have the right to "survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life." (Unicef, 2011) This right clearly shows that by law, the child no matter what religion he was had the right to survival and to develop to the fullest, it is evident in this case that the Judge acted in the best interest of the baby boy as he stood by the laws, the morals and the ethics. Also he stated that due to the Constitutional requirement by the state to protect the life of the citizens of such state it was "incontestable" and a "duty" to make ineffective the objections made by the parents, in order to protect the child.(Noone, 2011)

B. His Parents: In my professional opinion the judge in this case did not act in the best



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