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Transfusion-free treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses: respecting the autonomous patient's motives.
  1. D Malyon
  1. Hospital Liaison Committee for Jehovah's Witnesses, Luton.

    Abstract

    What makes Jehovah's Witnesses tick? What motivates practitioners of medicine? How is benevolent human behaviour to be interpreted? The explanation that fear of censure, mind-control techniques or enlightened self-interest are the real motivators of human conduct is questioned. Those who believe that man was created in "God's image", hold that humanity has the potential to rise above selfishly driven attitudes and actions, and reflect the qualities of love, kindness and justice that separate us from the beasts. A comparison of general medical ethics and disciplines, and those of the Jehovah's Witness community, is made in this context. The easy charge that frequent deaths result from refusal of blood transfusions is examined. The central source of antipathy towards Jehovah's Witnesses, namely the alleged imposition of extreme and even harmful refusal of blood therapy on our children is addressed. Of course, "...few dilemmas are likely to be resolved wisely or satisfactorily by a blinkered adherence to abstract principles alone. Solutions to most cases will be dictated by a combination of factors. The support of medical ethics by Jehovah's Witnesses, and their willingness to share in reasoned and ethical debate, while at the same time holding firm to their religious and conscientious principles are emphasised.

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