Jehovah's Witness wins in French transfusion case

Reuters/September 4, 2002
By Christine Clarridge

Lille, France -- A French court ruled on Wednesday that doctors acted illegally in giving a blood transfusion to a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses group against her will.

Doctors at a maternity clinic in the northern town of Valenciennes carried out the transfusion when the 24-year-old woman haemorrhaged after she have birth there last month.

The court in nearby Lille ruled they had broken a law dating from March this year requiring doctors to take into account the wishes of the patient in their treatment.

In its judgement, it said the transfusion was a "serious attack on individual liberty" of the woman, who launched her complaint after recovering.

Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian group formed in the United States in the 19th Century, attach a sacred role to blood and demand alternative treatment to transfusions.

Managers at the clinic said they would appeal the ruling, adding they considered the transfusion had been justified to save the woman's life.

The case could go to the French Council of State, the highest court to which the legal affairs of state are referred. The Council has previously rejected complaints by Jehovah's Witnesses that they received transfusions against their will.

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