1950s - 1960s Court Cases

1970s-1980s Cases * 1990s-2010s Cases

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The current irrational law in the United States regarding Jehovah's Witnesses and their refusal to accept blood transfusions is somewhat settled. Supposedly "legally competent" adult Jehovah's Witnesses have the constitutional right to effectively commit "back-door" suicide by refusing to consent to life-saving blood transfusions in life-or-death situations. Most state courts once recognized an exception to that general rule in the case of a Jehovah's Witness Parent who was responsible for minor children. Most state courts once recognized that the minor children of Jehovah's Witness Parents also have constitutional rights -- as well as other longstanding historical legal, social, and natural rights -- to be reared by and fully supported in every natural way by the very natural Parents who chose to bring them into this world. Most state courts once recognized that those multiple longstanding historical rights of children far exceeded any recent "tortured" constitutional interpretation which permits a Jehovah's Witness Parent to elect to become a martyr for a religious cult that demands obedience to a nonsensical religious belief and practice that did not even exist until the mid-20th century.

There was a time in our originally European-based American Society when American citizens wholeheartedly believed that the rearing of children was the ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY given to and accepted by humans. That principle was taught not only in churches and synagogues, but also in the schools. This editor can still recall one of their elementary school teachers proclaiming to the class that, "Once you have a child, your own life is put on hold until that child reaches adulthood. That child's wellbeing becomes the sole purpose of your life. Only after all your children leave home are you free to live your life for yourselves."

Hillary Clinton's new AFRICAN child-rearing philosophy that "it takes a village to raise (rear) a child" was born of necessity in ABORIGINAL TRIBES devoid of morals and commonsense. The reality in Africa, and now in the United States, is that while it may take a village (the "hood") to CONCEIVE a child, that village (the "hood") has no propensity to actually give those children a proper rearing. In reality, children are being reared in the "streets", because the only part of the process that interests 90% of the males and an increasing number of the females is the "act of conception".

Morally devoid and soul-less Caucasians and others are all too anxious to embrace this irresponsible behavior and philosophy of life. Despite the established legal principle that "Freedom of religious belief is absolute in the United States, but freedom to exercise religious belief is not absolute", some LIBERAL APPELLATE COURT JUDGES in states such as Florida and New York have decided to wage war against the very fabric of our European-based American Society. In recent decades, more and more LIBERAL JUDGES are either ignoring or even dishonestly twisting fact patterns so as to be able to allow Jehovah's Witness Parents to commit "back-door suicide" and default on their previously committed parental obligations.

Attorneys and others involved in these legal scenarios should never forget that it is most often a TRIAL COURT JUDGE who typically will make the actual final decision in these life-or-death scenarios. If a Jehovah's Witness Parent is legally permitted to commit "back-door suicide", and leave behind one or more minor children to be reared by the taxpayers and others, then that trial court judge must be willing to live with their decision for the rest of their life, and hopefully in the life that follows. Most trial court judges are still conservatives, because they live and work in the "real world". Even in states such as Florida and New York, there still remain a few sane trial court judges who are willing to do what is "morally right" in these scenarios, and who are willing to allow the after-the-fact liberal appellate court judges to "pound sand".

Attorneys and others addressing this "time is of the essence" issue before trial court judges should not overlook nor dismiss any responsibility to which a Jehovah's Witness Parent has previously committed themselves. Did that JW Parent previously accept the responsibility to hold part-time or full-time employment to help financially support their children until they have reached the age of majority or have graduated from college or graduate school? Did the JW Parent previously accept the legal responsibility to pay for one or more automobiles used for the benefit of their minor children? Did the JW Parent previously accept the legal responsibility to pay for the rent or the mortgage for the home in which their minor children reside? Are there other legal responsibilities for which the JW Parent in question previously has committed themselves -- such as paying for the huge medical expenses which they are presently incurring? Attorneys and others should keep in mind that they are attempting to win the heart and mind of a trial court judge -- not win a legal appeal before a panel of liberal appellate justices, which in most instances will occur only after the life of the JW Parent already has been saved.

Readers should understand that the following cases are merely a sampling of Jehovah's Witness Parents who over the decades actually did DIE, or wanted to DIE, despite having one or more children for whom they were legally and morally responsible. Such cases are not that easy to locate, because for decades, neither the COURTS nor the MEDIA always bothered to inquire, much less report, whether an adult Jehovah's Witness who was refusing life-saving blood transfusions had preexisting parental obligations.

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Misinterpreting Old Testament prohibitions against eating whole animal blood as a routine food item, the WatchTower Society soon began teaching that receiving a blood transfusion was exactly the same thing as "eating human blood".

"A patient in the hospital maybe fed through the mouth, through the nose, or through the veins. When sugar solutions are given intravenously it is called intravenous feeding. So the hospital's own terminology recognizes as feeding the process of putting nutrition into one's system via the veins. Hence the attendant administering the transfusion is feeding the patient through the veins, and the patient receiving it is eating through his veins." -- The WATCHTOWER magazine, July 1, 1951.

Jehovah's Witnesses were BAMBOOZLED into believing that receiving an infusion of human blood into their body's circulatory system was scientifically the exact same thing as eating or ingesting blood into their body's digestive system. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that when blood is eaten as "food" that the ingested blood enters the human body's separate and distinct digestive system, where it is treated by the digestive system exactly the same as a hotdog, a potato chip, or any other item of "food". It will be completely digested and broken down into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and waste -- which are then either assimilated or excreted by the body.

Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge the distinction that when human blood is TRANSFUSED into another human's circulatory system that the transfused human blood remains to be human blood and continues to function as human blood. That is the very point of a blood transfusion. The very purpose of a blood transfusion is to SAVE HUMAN LIFE. Blood transfusions are based on RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE.

The WatchTower Cult uses Old Testament guidelines regarding the disposal of blood from slaughtered animals to teach Jehovah's Witnesses that blood is "sacred" because blood is the "symbol" of life. Then, in the same breath, the WatchTower Cult turns around and requires Jehovah's Witnesses to SACRIFICE ACTUAL HUMAN LIFE to maintain the SANCTITY OF THE SYMBOL. WatchTower Cult doctrine MORONICALLY places a higher value on the SYMBOL OF HUMAN LIFE than it does ACTUAL HUMAN LIFE.

In fact, the Old Testament permitted the eating of "unbled" animal meat, which the Old Testament equated to eating animal blood itself. In emergency situations, when humans needed to eat unbled meat in order to sustain their life, the Mosaic Law permitted such desperate humans to eat "unbled" meat. Once their life had been saved, those humans were then required for a few days to fulfill the Mosaic Law's requirements for being "unclean". Thus, THE BIBLE RECOGNIZES AND TEACHES that the SUSTAINING OF HUMAN LIFE is MORE IMPORTANT than maintaining the "sanctity" of the mere "symbol" of life. To do otherwise would be doing exactly what the MORONIC WatchTower Cult does. It would make the SYMBOL more SACRED than the THING SYMBOLIZED.

In fact, the WatchTower Cult is MISLEADING JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES TO DISOBEY GOD and violate the Holy Scriptures in one of the most serious ways possible. GOD created humans in HIS image. GOD considers human life SACRED. A Jehovah's Witness who extinguishes SACRED HUMAN LIFE in order to MORONICALLY maintain the sanctity of the SYMBOL of that SACRED LIFE varies little from those who profane SACRED HUMAN LIFE by committing suicide. Those Jehovah's Witness Elders who teach and police this MORONIC WATCHTOWER CULT DOCTRINE vary little from MURDERERS. The Bible is clear as to how GOD views MURDER and how GOD views and eventually deals with MURDERERS.

The WatchTower Cult's SATANIC twisting of GOD'S WORD and BAMBOOZLING of its' Jehovah's Witness members in order to establish its own version of the GENERIC CULTIC REQUIREMENT of "POTENTIAL MARTYRDOM FOR ALL - ACTUAL MARTYRDOM FOR A FEW" would be laughable if not for the fact that it has lead to the MEANINGLESS DEATHS OF THOUSANDS OF HUMANS ACROSS PLANET EARTH since 1945, and it will continue to cause the pointless deaths of THOUSANDS MORE IN THE FUTURE until LIBERAL GOVERNMENTS finally wake up and declare "NO MORE OF THIS BACK-DOOR SUICIDE STUPIDITY UNDER THE GUISE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM". Legal precedent is already there. Stupid religious belief is unfettered. Stupid religious practice is not.

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In April 1952, Fred Newhouse, age 24, a Jehovah's Witness living in San Antonio, Texas, was seriously injured in an vehicle accident between a school bus and the milk truck that he was driving. Fred Newhouse needed kidney surgery, but he refused to consent to blood transfusions needed during the surgery, or transfusions needed to replace blood lost during the accident. Despite having two young children, Newhouse's wife, Irene Newhouse, fully supported her husband's decision. Apparently, Irene Newhouse had been reared as a Jehovah's Witness, but Fred had been reared as a Methodist. Fred Newhouse only converted to the JWs when he married Irene. A battle played out in the media between Irene Newhouse, and Fred's mother, Frieda Newhouse, who was a career Practical Nurse. John and Freida Newhouse did everything that they could possibly think of to convince Fred to change his mind. Frieda Newhouse offered to donate her own blood for the transfusion. Fred Newhouse's parents even made a request to the Air Force to grant furlough to Fred's favorite brother, so that he could come home to talk with Fred. A month after the accident, Fred was still alive, but listed as "critical". His internal bleeding had stopped, but doctors wanted permission to administer a blood transfusion during the needed kidney surgery. Outcome unknown.


LEONA K. MARTIN ET AL v. INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT COMMISSION was a 1955-56 California appellate court decision. The petitioners in this case were the widow and children of Charles C. Martin. While in the scope and course of his employment, Charles Martin sustained serious injuries, including a ruptured spleen, when the scaffold upon which he was working suddenly collapsed. Martin and his wife, Leona Martin, were informed at the hospital that an operation would be necessary, and that a transfusion of whole blood would be necessary.
Martin and his wife advised the hospital authorities and the attending physician that they were Jehovah's Witnesses, and that a transfusion of blood was against their religious beliefs, and that if it was a question of permitting a blood transfusion or dying, Martin would choose death. Before Martin was taken to surgery he and his wife signed a release, in which the following was stated: "I, Charles Martin, refuse to have a transfusion of blood, even tho it may mean the loss of my life, because of my religious beliefs."
An operation was then performed, the physicians using blood plasma and other substitutes for whole blood. Upon the opening of the abdomen the cavity was found to be full of blood, and there was a laceration of the spleen pulp with active bleeding. The spleen was surgically removed and, about two hours after the operation, Martin went into acute shock. The attending physician ordered a blood transfusion in the hope of saving his life, but the hospital authorities declined to consent to its being given because of the refusal of Martin and his wife to permit such transfusion, and shortly thereafter Charles Martin died.

At that time in California (since revised to include religious belief exception), a pertinent part of the worker's compensation law stated:
"No compensation is payable in case of the death or disability of an employee when his death is caused, or when and so far as his disability is caused, continued, or aggravated, by an unreasonable refusal to submit to medical treatment, or to any surgical treatment, if the risk of the treatment is, in the opinion of the commission, based upon expert medical or surgical advice, inconsiderable in view of the seriousness of the injury."
It was established by medical evidence that transfusion of substitutes for whole blood would not suffice to prevent shock, that transfusion of whole blood is the usual procedure in spleen operations and that the risks of such blood transfusions are minimal compared with the benefits thereof, and that the transfusion of whole blood in adequate amounts during and after surgery would probably have saved Charles Martin's life.
Therefore, the Commission ruled that Martin's death was "proximately" caused by his refusal to accept proper medical treatment, rather than the accident itself. That meant zero death benefits for Martin's children (and wife), who had not participated in their parents' shortsighted decision. Martin's wife appealed. The Court of Appeal of California affirmed the Commission's ruling, and the Supreme Court refused to hear further appeal. This appellate court reasoned, in part:
"Petitioners entirely overlook the fact that not only are Martin's rights to compensation involved but the employer's liability for the payment of compensation is also involved. Certainly it was not unreasonable for the Legislature to fix as a condition to the employer's liability that the death of an employee must arise out of his employment and that it should not exist where death is the result of the voluntary act of the employee in refusing medical attention. Here the commission not only found that Martin's refusal of medical care was unreasonable but that his death was due not to the injury received in the scope and course of his employment but by his refusal of transfusions of whole blood. Martin was not obligated to work in an employment that rendered him subject to the Workmen's Compensation Act, and if he accepted such employment he accepted it, insofar as his right to compensation is concerned, subject to the conditions imposed by the Legislature upon the right to such compensation.

"It is petitioners' contention, however, that if the statute is construed as permitting the commission to hold that an employee's refusal to accept medical aid is unreasonable where the acceptance of such aid is contrary to his religious beliefs, the statute denies him his constitutional right of religious freedom and to the equal protection of the laws. There is no merit in this contention, for 'although freedom of conscience and the freedom to believe are absolute, the freedom to act is not ... .' Under the statute here Martin was free to believe and worship as he chose, and he was further free, if he so chose, to practice his belief; but if he exercised that choice and his death resulted from his choice, petitioners were not entitled, as a matter of right, to the benefits of the workmen's compensation laws.
... ...
"... Martin was free to accept the tenets of his church and believe in them, and he was free to exercise his right to practice those beliefs, but that did not give him a right to impose, contrary to the statute, a liability upon his employer for his death resulting from his voluntary practice of his religion. ... ".


In June 1956, a Nevada Jehovah's Witness Mother of two children, named Helen Bendele, age 35, died at Elko General Hospital from excessive blood loss. Helen Bendele's pickup truck was struck by an oncoming train after the truck stalled on a railroad crossing. Helen Bendele's injury was limited to a severed artery in one leg, but she refused to consent to a life-saving blood transfusion. The report noted that Helen Bendele had been one of the main prosecution witnesses in a recent kidnapping-rape trial.
ELIZABETH DENNO TRAGEDY. In July 1958, Mrs. Elizabeth Denno, age 43, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, died of excessive blood loss caused by a bleeding ulcer in her stomach and intestine. Elizabeth Denno died leaving her husband, Gardner Denno, age 45, to care for two minor children. Four adult children also survived.

Elizabeth Denno was first hospitalized in September 1957, when she initially refused the doctor- recommended blood transfusions because she was a Jehovah's Witness. During the many weeks that Ann Denno spent in Hale Hospital, several clergymen, including even a Jewish Rabbi, visited with Denno and attempted to explain to her that the WatchTower Society was misinterpreting the Bible on the topic of blood. Denno paid no attention, but preferred to lay down her life as a martyr for the WatchTower Cult. Denno ignored the pleadings of her non-JW husband, and she ignored her parental responsibilities to her two minor and four adult children. (It is not known how many of her adult children were JWs, and supported her decision to die.)Given months of publicity, it is surprising that no judges or attorneys in Massachusetts stepped forward and argued to a court that her life should be spared for the benefit of her minor children.

Notably, Elizabeth Denno's cultish beliefs resulted in her spending from September 1957 until January 1958 in the hospital --racking up untold BILLS which likely were eventually footed by the American taxpayers and/or policyholders. Denno was re-admitted in May 1958, and again racked up untold BILLS for two months before finally dying. Not only has the WatchTower Cult never been asked to reimburse either the U.S. Government or an insurance company for needless and pointless excessive medical bills, but the CULT even is given tax-exempt status.
On a Sunday in September 1959, less than 6 months after relocating his family from San Francisco, California, to Parkin, Arkansas, in order "to serve where the need is great" (aka, "to serve where the great are needed"), Gerald Trask, age 27, his wife, and their three children were all injured in a tragic automobile accident. Gerald refused to consent to necessary blood transfusions, and slowly bled to death from internal injuries over a four day period. Jerry Trask, age 3, underwent intensive surgery. No transfusion was needed, but the hospital was prepared to obtained a court-order if such was needed. Unknown what happened to wife and other two children.

Details are sketchy, but apparently, in 1959, three JW children in Newberry, Michigan, were left parentless after the JW Father died in September 1959 in an automobile accident, and after their JW Mother died in October 1959, from blood loss, after giving birth to the JW Couple's third child, named Lonie Ray Cummings. Wesley Cummings, age 1, survived, as did a sister, age 3. It is tragedies like these that are never told because such gives credence to the logic that adult JWs should be transfused by court order if they have minor children to rear.
This 1960 newspaper report comes from Rochester England. I have tried to resist posting JW incidents from outside the United States (especially the multiple "hospital kidnappings"), but occasionally an incident just screams to be posted here. Was this incident an example of "faith", or was it suicide resulting from despair -- despair from having just lost her one-year-old and possibly her three-year-old, or even possibly "preexisting despair"?

Because of her husband's religion, a mother of five children died Tuesday night after refusing the blood transfusion that might have saved her life. "My wife's decision was a shining example as an act of faith," said Henry Humphries, a Jehovah's Witness. The sect opposes transfusions.
"THE DECISION was hers," Humphries asserted. "But she was aware of my belief, and she would respect my wishes as head of the household. That is scriptural, for the Bible says: 'You wives obey your husbands in all things'."
"We could not force Mrs. Humphries to have a transfusion against her will," said a hospital spokesman. HUMPHRIES' wife, Eliza, 37, was injured Sunday when the family motorcycle and a truck collided. The couple's youngest child, Russell, 1, riding with his mother in the sidecar, was killed and another son, Richard, 3, is in the hospital with head injuries. Humphries escaped almost unhurt.

"The surgeon told me that if my wife was given a blood transfusion, she would probably live, and if she did not have one, she would probably die," Humphries said.
MY WIFE believed in our religion, but she had not become a dedicated member as I did three years ago. "I told her what the doctor wanted to do and she said, 'No, I will not take blood. Just give me a drink and stroke my hair.'Then she closed her eyes and became unconscious. She never came round again."


In September 1962, Darrell Lutz, age 23, of Caldwell, Oregon, a married Jehovah's Witness Father of two infant daughters, was injured in an unknown accident which caused injuries requiring brain surgery. Darrell Lutz's JW Wife and JW Parents, Mr/Mrs Carl Lutz, all refused to give their consent for needed blood transfusions. Neurosurgeons at an unidentified Portland, Oregon hospital did the best they could do medically, under the circumstances, but mysteriously failed to seek court intervention before Darrell Lutz died.

IN RE BILLY FAULKNER was a 1962 Mississippi court decision. In April-May 1962, another no-transfusion drama played out which involved a 22 year-old father of three children -- a Jehovah's Witness named Billy Faulkner, who lived in Meridian, Mississippi. Faulkner was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers. Doctors would not operate unless Billy consented to blood transfusions, which he refused. Young Faulkners parents were not Jehovah's Witnesses, and initially, they did everything they could to convince him to change his mind. However, Billy had converted to the JWs in order to marry Maxine Faulkner, who was now the mother of his three children.
Maxine seemed to enjoy the attention given her by newspaper and even television reporters as the drama first played out. They recorded her stating on one hand that she was "positive" that Billy would not die, and on the other hand, that if Billy did die, then it would be "God's will". Maxine Faulkner also told reporters that she was cutting and saving all the news clippings for when her three young children grew up. Well, she got to use them. Billy died a slow painful death of 7-8 weeks. Those clippings must really have comforted those three pitiful orphans.

Interestingly, within six weeks into this soap opera, Billy's own non-JW Mother had been indoctrinated into believing the WatchTower BULLSHIT, and both she and Billy's father sided with the JWs with whom they had been surrounded for weeks, and they proudly declared to reporters that they no longer were trying to persuade Billy to consent to blood transfusions. FOOLS. They were the only ones whom had a shot at convincing Billy to do so.
Oh, the Meridian hospital petitioned for court intervention, but the Mississippi Judge ruled that he could do nothing so long as Billy was a competent adult. Too bad that Mississippi judge was not a "thinker". The state has a large interest -- financial and otherwise -- in seeing to it that its citizens live to rear the children whom they have brought into this world.
In September 1963, Harold Mather, age 38, a WatchTower Convention attendee from Oregon, was struck and seriously injured by a mentally ill driver in Los Angeles, California, and died. Some news reports hinted that Mather was convinced by his wife, Neva Mather, to refuse to consent to a needed blood transfusion. Some reported that Mather was in shock, and thus could not have known what was going on. It was also reported that Mather's nine year-old son begged Mather at the hospital to consent to a transfusion so that he would not die. In a follow-up newspaper article, the WatchTower Cult spokesperson appeared to want to address these negatives. A JW who had been involved in the incident stated that what had been reported "was slightly blown out of proportion." The JW continued, "In the first place, the Mathers have no son, as the news stories reported. They have a daughter, Linda, who is 9, and she wasn't at the hospital when Harold and his wife talked about the transfusion." [That doesn't mean that the daughter did not speak to the father at some point thereafter - before he died.] The JW did not address the issue whether Harold Mather was in shock after the accident, thus incapable of refusing transfusions.

IN RE BABY BOY MUHALUK was a 1963 Georgia court decision which involved a WATCHTOWER SCHOOL OF GILEAD graduate, previous DEPORTED WatchTower Missionary to Poland, and previous CIRCUIT SERVANT and his wife. In December 1963, Paul Muhaluk, age 49, and Helen Muhaluk, age 40, of Decatur, Georgia, refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions needed by both the mother and the couple's newborn third son. The unidentified Atlanta hospital sought and received court authorization to transfuse Mrs Paul Muhaluk due to excessive blood loss, and the newborn due to anemia. We have yet been able to identify this third son born in 1963. This JW Couple's first son, Timothy Jonathan Muhaluk, was born in May 1958, which likely was the reason this JW Couple fell from the WatchTower Cult's grace given that he was conceived while his parents were still a CIRCUIT SERVANT COUPLE. Second son, Michael Andrew Muhaluk, was born in November 1960. Interestingly, the Muhaluk Estate in Decatur, Georgia, was foreclosed for non-payment of 2012-2015 taxes in November 2015. This ELITE JEHOVAH'S WITNESS FAMILY seemingly fell apart in later years.

IN RE JANET KING was a 1964 California court decision. Reported details are sketchy. Either the reporter was not that sharp, or he was really sharp. In March 1964, Janet King was driving her 5 year-old daughter to the dentist when they were involved in a serious crash. Nothing was said about injuries to the child - just that she was reported to be doing "quite well".
Due to "critical injuries", St. Rose Hospital officials sought court intervention when JW Husband, Anthony King, refused to consent to transfusions for his wife. Apparently, the court heard this case, but declined to intervene. A JW Overseer was mentioned to have presented arguments to the judge on behalf of the Kings, who had converted only 3-4 years previous. The case was described as dropped. I still wonder about the child, and whether there might have been two cases.
The reporter also noted that while Janet was in the emergency room that a group of "friends and relatives" had gathered to pray for her in a room next to the ER. Right! They were Jehovah's Witnesses, and they were there to SPY on both the medical staff and the Kings to make certian that no blood transfusions were administered. Janet King was last reported in satisfactory condition, but as is typical in these scenarios, ongoing blood loss could have eventually changed the outcome.


APPLICATION OF THE PRESIDENT AND DIRECTORS OF GEORGETOWN COLLEGE was a 1964 District of Columbia appellate court decision. Jesse Jones, age 25, and mother of a seven month old infant, was admitted to the hospital suffering from a ruptured ulcer which had caused her to lose two-thirds of her blood. As Jehovah's Witnesses, both Jesse Jones and her husband, James Jones, refused to consent to a blood transfusion.

Attorneys for Georgetown Hospital filed a petition in equity to the United States District Court, a court of general jurisdiction. The application sought a decree in the nature of an injunction and declaratory judgment to determine the legal rights and liabilities between the Hospital and doctors and Mrs. Jones and her husband. The treatment proposed by the hospital in its application was not a single transfusion, but a series of transfusions. The hospital and doctors sought a court determination before undertaking either this course of treatment, or some alternative. The USDC denied the petition.

Attorneys for Georgetown Hospital then applied for an emergency writ seeking relief from the action of the United States District Court. Judge Wright, of the Court Of Appeals, went to Georgetown Hospital, where he conferred with the Jones, hospital staff, and several physicians. All of the physicians agreed that Jones' condition was critical. Without a blood transfusion, she would die. Even with a transfusion, Jesse Jones had only a little better than 50 percent chance of surviving.

The President of Georgetown University pleaded with James Jones' to consent to a transfusion. Father Bunn tried to explain to him how a blood transfusion was not the same thing as drinking or eating blood. James Jones refused to budge from his prior refusals. James Jones later told Judge Wright about his religious objections, but he said that "... if the court ordered the transfusion, the responsibility was not his."

Judge Wright tried to talk with Mrs. Jones, but her grave condition made it difficult to communicate:

"The only audible reply I could hear was, 'Against my will.' It was obvious that the woman was not in a mental condition to make a decision. I was reluctant to press her because of the seriousness of her condition and because I felt that to suggest repeatedly the imminence of death without blood might place a strain on her religious convictions. I asked her whether she would oppose the blood transfusion if the court allowed it. She indicated, as best I could make out, that it would not then be her responsibility. ...

"... Mrs. Jones had no wish to be a martyr. And her religion merely prevented her consent to a transfusion. If the law undertook the responsibility of authorizing the transfusion without her consent, no problem would be raised with respect to her religious practice. Thus, the effect of the order was to preserve for Mrs. Jones the life she wanted without sacrifice of her religious beliefs."

Judge Wright then then signed a temporary order authorizing only those transfusions needed to save Jones' life, reasoning: 

"... a life hung in the balance. There was no time for research and reflection. Death could have mooted the cause in a matter of minutes, if action were not taken to preserve the status quo. To refuse to act, only to find later that the law required action, was a risk I was unwilling to accept. I determined to act on the side of life."

This temporary order allowed Jones' husband to petition the Court of Appeals for a full hearing anytime during the series of transfusions which might follow. One or more transfusions were administered, and Jesse Jones survived. The Jones moved for a rehearing by the entire Court of Appeals, but their request was denied. Interestingly, rumor has it that many of Judge Wright's LIBERAL APPELLATE COURT PEERS were extremely displeased with his decision, but they were afraid to challenge a decision which saved the life of a mother of a young infant, and possibly establish an appellate court precedent.

In his decision, Judge Wright reviewed case evidence that supported compulsory medical treatment for children. He reasoned that since Jesse Jones was "in extremis" and hardly "compos mentis", she could be compared to a child. Jesse Jones was no more able to competently decide what was appropriate medical treatment for herself than a child. If parents could not forbid necessary medical treatment for a child, then a husband had no right to forbid such for his wife.

Wright further noted court cases involving children and the parens patriae doctrine. The state did not allow parents to abandon their children. The refusal of medical treatment by Mrs. Jones could ultimately result in "voluntary abandonment". Jesse Jones had a responsibility to the state to care for her infant, thus the state had an interest in preserving her life.

Judge Wright also took note of the above highlighted comments made by both Jesse Jones and James Jones regarding "responsibility" for the court-ordered blood transfusions -- something more Judges should do more often. As did the Jones, the vast majority of Jehovah's Witnesses believe that if the blood transfusions are court-ordered, then "Jehovah" will not hold the recipient responsible for the supposed "sin". So long as the Jehovah's Witness, and their JW family, are allowed to establish that they have protested and refused the administering of transfusions, then a Judge may then save the Jehovah's Witnesses life by ordering the transfusion, and thereby take on the "responsibility" of such with "Jehovah".


IN RE WILLIE MAY POWELL was a 1965 New York court decision. In December 1965, an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Willie Mae Powell was admitted to Columbian Presbyterian Medical Center to deliver her sixth child. Although the planned delivery was via caesarean section, the Hospital had agreed to perform such with a signed liability release despite the possibility of excessive blood loss, and despite the fact that Willie Mae Powell had refused to consent to blood transfusions due to her religious beliefs as one of Jehovah's Witnesses.
Willie Mae Powell did in fact suffer excessive blood loss, and Powell was in danger of dying. Eugene Powell, Willie's husband, and other family members were NOT Jehovah's Witnesses, and they and hospital staff pleaded with Powell to consent to the needed blood transfusions. She refused. Thereafter, Eugene Powell petitioned a local court to authorize life-saving blood transfusions. The court granted the petition after coming to the realization that Willie Powell would accept a transfusion if such was court ordered so that Willie Powell was not held responsible for such. This judge did not take this case lightly, but as he stated:
"This matter generated a barrage of legal niceties, misinformationand emotional feelings on the part of all concerned -- including the Court personnel.

.... nor could I forget for one moment my convictions with regard to the individual's right to be let alone or -- crucially important -- that a human life hung in the balance.

Never before had my judicial robe weighed so heavily on my shoulders. Years of legal training, experience and responsibility had added a new dimension to my mental processes -- I, almost by reflex action, subjected the papers to the test of justiciability, jurisdiction and legality. I read Application of President and Directors of Georgetown College, Inc., ..., and was convinced of the proper course from a legal standpoint. ... It became clear to me that the crux of the problem lay, not in Mrs. Powell's religious convictions, but in her refusal to sign a prior written authorization for the transfusion of blood. She did not object to receiving the treatment involved--she would not, however, direct its use. I was also convinced that the hospital, having obtained a signed release of liability..., took the view that it had fulfilled its obligations to this patient and would not, under these circumstances, administer blood transfusions even if necessary to save the patient's life.

How legalistic minded our society has become, and what an ultra-legalistic maze we have created to the extent that society and the individual have become enmeshed and paralyzed by its unrealistic entanglements!

I was reminded of 'The Fall' by Camus, and I knew that no release -- no legalistic absolution -- would absolve me or the Court from responsibility if I, speaking for the Court, answered 'No' to the question 'Am I my brother's keeper?' This woman wanted to live. I could not let her die!"


UNITED STATES v. ELISHUS GEORGE was a 1965 Connecticut federal District Court decision. On March 15, 1965, Elishus George, the 39 year old Jehovah's Witness Father of four children, voluntarily admitted himself into the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut. Although bleeding seriously from his gastrointestinal tract, George refused blood transfusions. Both Elishus George and his wife, Elizabeth George, were Jehovah's Witnesses. Both signed releases relieving the hospital and its employees of any civil liability for any injury to Elishus George which followed from the lack of blood transfusions.
On March 17, 1965, at approximately 11:30 A.M., an attorney for the government, on behalf of the Hospital, orally applied to the USDC for an order granting permission to administer blood transfusions in order to save Elishus George's life. On being informed that the patient's condition was "precarious" but not extreme, the court refused to act on the oral application. Thereafter the government brought a civil action with service upon both Georges, and set the matter down for hearing on March 18, 1965. 

However, at approximately 6:30 P.M., on March 17, 1965 the Court received a telephone call from the government's attorney and was informed the patient's condition had become critical. Further, the government had prepared a written application for a temporary restraining order, supported by an affidavit from the treating physician, which stated the Court's order was now necessary to save the patient's life. The Court arrived at the hospital at 8:00 P.M. and until 10:15 P.M interviewed five doctors, Mrs. George, Mr. George, Mrs. Gradie George, mother of the patient, and several members of the Jehovah's Witnesses sect. Both Mr. and Mrs. George expressly declined the Court's offer to appoint counsel of their own choosing or to be represented by an attorney selected by the Court. George's mother was not a Jehovah's Witnesses, thus was not opposed to a blood transfusion. Medical testimony indicated that at least five pints of whole blood was needed. Tests indicated the patient had already lost 60-65% of his red blood cells. Any further bleeding would lead to shock and probably death.

At the time of the hearing, Elishus George was coherent, rational and rather strong. George stated that he would not agree to be transfused, but he would in no way resist a court order permitting it, because "it would be the Court's will and not his own." The order was signed, and the transfusion administered. By March 22, George's health was no longer in danger, and the temporary order was dissolved.This decision is somewhat unique in that it is one of the few that actually considered the moral quandrey in which Jehovah's Witnesses place hospitals and doctors, stating in part: 
Mr. George appeared to the Court to be coherent, rational and rather strong. However, doctors in attendance agreed his outward appearance was deceiving and his internal condition was most serious. When the Court introduced himself, George's first remarks were that he would not agree to be transfused but would in no way resist a court order permitting it, because it would be the Court's will and not his own. His "conscience was clear," and the responsibility for the act was "upon the Court's conscience." He stated he would rather die than agree to a transfusion. The Court advised George it had no power to force a transfusion upon him, and he was free to resist the transfusion, even by the rather simple physical maneuver of placing his hand over the area to be injected by the needle. George stated he would "in no way" resist the doctors' actions once the Court's order was signed.

Mrs. George, citing certain passages from the Bible, was adamant in her opposition to the transfusions. She insisted that the Court had no right to order the transfusion in violation of their religious beliefs. Two other Jehovah's Witnesses, visiting the patient, concurred in Mrs. George's remarks. ...
In the difficult realm of religious liberty it is often assumed only the religious conscience is imperiled. Here, however, the doctor's conscience and professional oath must also be respected. In the present case the patient voluntarily submitted himself to and insisted upon medical care. Simultaneously he sought to dictate to treating physicians a course of treatment amounting to medical malpractice. To require these doctors to ignore the mandates of their own conscience, even in the name of free religious exercise, cannot be justified under these circumstances. The patient may knowingly decline treatment, but he may not demand mistreatment.


IN RE MARTHA RIDGE was a 1966 Washington state court decision. In February 1966, a Jehovah's Witness named Martha Ridge, age 35, of Enumclaw, Washington, was critically ill, and needed surgery during which a blood transfusion would likely be needed. When Martha Ridge refused to consent to any transfusions, the Enumclaw hospital sought court intervention. Judge Robert Utter, of Seattle, authorized necessary life-saving blood transfusions based on the reasoning that the state had an interest in ensuring that this Jehovah's Witness Mother of FIVE CHILDREN survived to continue rearing them.


IN RE KENNETH L. BERGER was a 1966 Minnesota court decision. In December 1965, a Jehovah's Witness named Kenneth Berger, age 35, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, went to purchase a CHRISTMAS TREE at a fundraiser conducted by a local civic organization. While Ken Berger and a dentist volunteering at the sale were loading Berger's tree into the trunk of Berger's automobile, a second automobile mashed the two men between the two autos. The dentist lost one leg, and Berger lost both legs. Kenneth Berger somehow survived for several days the blood loss from the initial accident and the amputation of his legs, while he refused to consent to needed blood transfusions. However, the need for blood transfusions eventually became a life-or-death matter in January 1966, so Berger's wife, Lorraine Berger, went to court and had her husband declared physically and mentally incompetent -- successfully pleading that she and her two infant children, Steven Berger and Susan Berger, needed their husband and father to survive to fulfill his parental obligations to their family.


In December 1967, a Jehovah's Witness father of two children, named Cruz Guerrero, of Compton, California, underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor from his stomach, which had been causing bleeding leading to a severe loss of blood. Guerrero would not consent to a blood transfusion during or after the surgery, which would have cost only $75.00. After this JW Father of two lapsed into a semi-coma from a severe loss of blood, Doctors at Harbor General Hospital transported the JW to a U. S. Navy station fifteen miles away, and placed him in a "re-compressure chamber", which forced 14 times the regular amount of oxygen into what blood remained in Guerrero's body. Cost to taxpayers? Estimated at $15-20,000.00 (that's 1967 dollars).


In March 1968, Mrs. James F. Christian, age 28, a Jehovah's Witness Mother of two sons -- James F. Christian, Jr. and Kent Christian -- died at Phoenix, Arizona's Good Samaritan Hospital, where she was employed as a Registered Nurse and Nursing Coordinator, after Christian refused to consent to necessary life-saving blood transfusions. Cause of death was excessive blood loss from unspecified hemorrhaging. Deceased was daughter of Mr/Mrs Orville Tan. Fully supported by JW Husband, James F. Christian. Family was originally from Des Moines, Iowa. At the time of death, hospital was seeking court intervention.


IN RE ROGER PARSONS was a 1969 Wyoming court decision. In March 1969, Roger Parsons, age 26, of Casper, Wyoming, was found unconscious from what turned out to be a blood clot in his brain. Roger Parsons was not even a Jehovah's Witness. At most, Roger Parsons occasionally had attended "meetings" at his wife, Starla Parson's, local Casper Wyoming Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Starla Parsons refused to consent to the needed emergency brain surgery because she feared that a blood transfusion also would be needed. It took two days before Roger Parson's father, Samuel Parsons, could obtain court-ordered guardianship so that he could consent to the needed surgery. Emergency brain surgery was finally performed at Natrona County Memorial Hospital, and no transfusion was even needed. However, Roger died about five weeks later. It was unknown how much the two-day delay played a factor. Roger Parsons left a young son, Ronald Duane Parsons, to be reared by some other "father". This case is a good lesson for non-JWs married to JWs. Make certain that your JW Spouse is not in control of your medical consent if you become incapacitated.




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