Monday, November 5, 2007

Faith vs. Reason 2: Jehovah's Witness mom bleeds out after giving birth.

transfusion superstitionThe earlier post about the tragic burning deaths of Muslim schoolgirls and today's news have spawned a Category here at HABOP. Faith vs. Reason posts will highlight occasions when stupid people put faith before reason.

Britain's Daily Mail reports today that a young mother died hours after giving birth to twins because she refused a life-saving blood transfusion. A Jehovah's Witness, Emma Gough signed a form before the birth barring transfusion. Hospital staff begged her husband, also a Jehovah's Witness, and other relatives to allow it. Believing that blood transfusions are prohibited by the Bible, the family would not sanction the treatment.

Imagine the conversation a few years from now when the twins want to know why they don't have a mommy. What will dad say- mommy bled to death when you were born because God, daddy, and auntie wanted her to die rather than allow her body to be sullied by proven medical technology available to the most indigent of patients? If that chat takes place before they're fully brainwashed the cult has lost the kids for sure. That may be the only good thing to come of this. There's nothing good about blood doctrine nonsense. It's all bad.

It's Bad Science. In a 1961 Watchtower, a doctor and surgeon was quoted as saying "Moral insanity, sexual perversions, repression, inferiority complexes, petty crimes often follow blood transfusion." Another is quoted: “The blood in any person is in reality the person himself. It contains all the peculiarities of the individual.... The poisons that produce the impulse to commit suicide, murder, or steal are in the blood.” This is bad vampire fiction. Cross-matching, screening for infection, anticoagulant preservatives, and control systems all but guarantee safety from less supernatural risks.

It's Bad Religion. Blood transfusions are mentioned in the bible as often as CAT scans, tennis shoes and popsicles; never. The prohibition is generated by parsing and extrapolating scripture beyond its original meaning. Blood doctrine evolved from recommendations for abstinence in 1909 to prohibition by 1945, to a disfellowshipping offense in 1961, and ad absurdum to forbidding transfusions for pets and use of blood-based fertilizer in 1964. It's a classic example of the Making Shit Up school of theology. All faiths do it. Yours does. It's funny or sad depending on the consequences. Furthermore, it's far from universally accepted within their own church. Witnesses, like Muslims, Catholics, and Jews, exhibit a refreshingly human lack of uniformity in acceptance of official dogma.

It's Bad Morals. It's nothing more than assisted suicide. Jack Kevorkian did hard time for that but at least had the decency to provide the feel- good drugs. In the case of denying proper 21st century post- partum care, it's gender apartheid on a par with enforced marriages and genital mutilation.

I'm a huge believer in the right to be stupid at your own expense. Unfortunately the victims of stupid people's mental and moral lapses are often not themselves but innocents caught under the wheels of their crazy train. By the act of procreation, parents lose the right to flush their own lives down the toilet. A proper god would consign this woman's soul straight to hell.