Dennis Lindberg is a 14-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who has leukemia. His parents (who do not have legal custody and are not Jehovah’s Witnesses) have demanded that he be given a needed blood transfusion. However, Judge John Meyer ruled that the boy can refuse the treatment, even though it will inevitably lead to his death.
The parents charge that the boy was brought into the faith by his legal guardian, his aunt, who is also a Jehovah’s Witness.
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Jehovah’s Witnesses have raised this issue many times over the years due to their view of the sacred aspect of blood. They believe that the Bible prohibits the taking of blood into the body for the purpose of sustaining the body’s functions. They often refer to:
Genesis 9:3-4: “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you….Only flesh with its soul—its blood—you must not eat.”
*Leviticus 17:14: “You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the soul of every sort of flesh is its blood.”
Acts 15:29: “Keep abstaining … from blood.”
Yet, here the boy is below the age of majority and physicians believe that he can die at any time. This puts an uncomfortable degree of power in the hands of a guardian over the wishes of the biological parents. Under this approach, any child may be refuse necessary treatment under defended on the basis for free exercise, even if they belong to a cult or fringe faith. An alternative view would be to protect minors from lethal decisions and make the attaining the age of majority the dividing line in such cases.