Court Ruling Allows Blood Transfusion

A controversial court decision involving life over religion.

CBS 47 Jacksonville/May 12, 2004

A Jacksonville couple, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, gave birth to a dying baby over the weekend, but their religion forbids them from getting a blood transfusion--even to save the baby's life.

Hours after the baby was born, a Duval County judge overruled the parents.

The baby was born Saturday at Baptist Medical Center, needing a life-saving procedure. It was a court order that came to his rescue.

Anxious doctors at Baptist maintain they had no other choice but to get the courts involved.

The newborn, known only as "Baby X" in the petition, needed a blood transfusion. The procedure goes directly against the wishes and religion of the baby's parents.

State Attorney Harry Shorstein says, "The baby was born very prematurely. I think the weight was 1-pound, 6-ounces".

Shorstein called for an emergency hearing. The baby's parents, Deliah Floyd and Doward Carter, waived their appearance, but Judge John Skinner did hear testimony from medical experts who said the boy would likely die unless he had a blood transfusion.

In his ruling, Judge Skinner said the hospital has a compelling interest in the preservation of the life of "Baby X" which outweighs the parent's right to exercise their religious beliefs in good faith.

Rebecca Rounds, a Jehovah Witness, says, "The parents have the right to decide what is best for their child and what they will accept for their child".

Rounds says Jehovah's Witnesses say transfusions go against scripture. Followers are not allowed to even pre-deposit their own blood for later use.

The baby's parents declined to comment.

"I think the decision in this case was easy. In the other cases involving pregnancy, those can be complicated because under our law. A knowing person can intelligently decide to die even though the medical treatment would save his or her life".

But in this case, Shorstein says the baby can't speak for itself.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that authority should be given to the parents, not the courts. "If the child is old enough to make their decision, then many times they do respect that. If the child is still too young, it should be the parents wishes that should be respected", says Rounds.

The court order allows doctors to administer blood transfusions to the child until he is out of danger and discharged from their case.

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