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Jehovah's Witness Family Assists In Woman's Suicide

Jehovah’s Witness Family Assists In Woman’s Suicide

Emma Gough gave birth to twins last week. She lost a lot of blood in the process. A blood transfusion would have saved her life. But she said no. Because she’s a Jehovah’s Witness. Then she died.

Via Friendly Atheist.

This was a murder-suicide, no doubt about it.

Now let me be clear I think people have the inalienable right to choose their time and place of death. But a prerequisite has to be that they are sane, cognizant and clear about what they are doing. And making such a decision by default, and through heartless inaction letting your wife, sister or daughter die from lack of blood has to be one of the most crass and inhuman acts in the human repertoire of evil.

Framing it as some kind of sacrifice in service to some non-existent god is a blasphemy against humanity and the sacredness–yes sacredness–of life. If jumping off a bridge is illegal or physician-assisted suicide is illegal, then it should clearly be illegal for Jehovah’s Witnesses to withhold necessary medical treatment. The result is the same. The motivation and method are irrelevant.

It would be a tragedy enough if this poor mother died of natural causes. That it was an easily preventable death takes it out of the realm of tragedy and puts it in the realm of stupidity. This poor woman should get a Darwin Award, except she already had her kids, and they will hopefully escape the infection of their mother’s fatal mind-virus. I wonder if the Watchtower Society is planning to pay for these poor kids’ care–psychiatric and otherwise.

Some people argue that we have to allow people of faith to come to their own conclusions, and respect their developmental stages. This sordid situation proves that there is often not time to “let” people figure things out on their own. Sometimes the mental disease of faith is so severe that only the state or a family member can intervene to prevent senseless death.

I’d say this family shoud be ashamed of themselves, but their grief is punishment enough. I hope they figure out that what killed their beloved sister, wife, daughter and mother was her faith. If they don’t then Emma Gough will have died in vain.


Comments (13 comments)

Mriana / November 6th, 2007, 6:43 am / #1

If jumping off a bridge is illegal or physician-assisted suicide is illegal, then it should clearly be illegal for Jehovah’s Witnesses to withhold necessary medical treatment.

Well the thing is, the U.S., as well as other countries, have this silly idea that religious ideas should take precidence over anything else- including the law. Amish- oh they don’t want to educate their children on religious grounds, OK let the kids drop out after 8th grade. Such a waste of a precious mind. Conscientious objector? It had better be on religious grounds or you’re still going to war. :roll: The list goes on and on and on as to what gets exempted from law due to religious grounds. It’s all insanity and superstition.

Liquid Egg Product / November 6th, 2007, 10:03 am / #2

So she should be forced to get a blood transfusion? Doesn’t she have a right over what’s done to her body? (Even if it is appallingly stupid not to have the transfusion.)

Consider this: she did die of natural causes. For most of human history, there would have been no hope for her. In 2007, yes, it’s preventable, but what’s the interest in forcing people to undergo medical procedures they don’t want to take?

What about a paralyzed person who can only be kept alive via life support? Should that person be forced to stay on life support or is it OK if the person chooses to stop the machine?

A more cynical way to look at it: now there’s one less person to promote falsehood.

BlackSun / November 6th, 2007, 10:27 am / #3

So she should be forced to get a blood transfusion? Doesn’t she have a right over what’s done to her body?

She should have been forcibly given the transfusion. She did not go into the hospital intending to commit suicide. She did not have a psych eval to see if she had thought through the ramifications. Nor, presumably did she make arrangements for how her children were to be cared for.

No, this was not a thoughtful choice. It was a dogma-based atrocity, which her family members could have prevented at any time. Instead they watched her die.

Yes, people used to routinely die in childbirth. They also died of smallpox, typhoid, cholera, and a host of other preventable diseases. We have eliminated those problems, and now to deliberately withhold vaccines would be tantamount to committing murder.

As I said in the original post, people have the right to die, or should. But this situation was in no way about a choice, it was a medical emergency, which the family had clearly not expected. It’s not like the mom succumbed and her family withdrew life-support after a bruising battle with cancer.

Now, instead of a happy healthy family convalescing at home and enjoying their children, we have a shocked and grieving family and two little kids who will never know their mom.

No, this is no right-to-die case. This is a tragedy brought on by stupid and ultimately heartless people following even more stupid dogma. One can only imagine what went through their minds as she slipped away. Their desire to do “God’s will” clearly overcame any shred of humanity. It was murder-suicide by default.

Liquid Egg Product / November 6th, 2007, 10:50 am / #4

Our government gives us freedom of religion, bounded of course by the requirement that the religion obeys the laws of the country.

There is no law requiring people to attempt any given medical procedure to save their lives (in general). The woman exercises her religious belief, which does not conflict with the laws of the country. So who has the right to force the transfusion?

That is frightening territory.

BlackSun / November 6th, 2007, 10:55 am / #5

I think the question that should be put to the family is: Would you like her back? If the answer is yes, then the medical facility should have forced that transfusion to give the family the opportunity to make a sober choice.

If their answer is no, then they effectively killed her, and the doctors should have intervened.

The same people who argue religious freedom for this woman to die tried to force Terry Schiavo to live. That’s why I’m in favor of universal and objective standards. Leave religion out of it. It has nothing to say of any value on matters of life and death.

Liquid Egg Product / November 6th, 2007, 11:09 am / #6

LOL. The Schiavo situation was an absolute fiasco.

Another question is whether, morally, we should be forcing people to live at all, and under what circumstances. As you say, it would be wonderful to have some sort of universal and objective standard.

But therein lies the problem. What’s objectively right to group A may or may not be to group B. Let’s say 30% believe forcing life is the best choice, 30% want to leave it up to the individual, and 20% who thinks the Earth is over-populated and thus we should have a bias towards death. Who’s right? Who, objectively has the strongest argument? I could make an argument for any of those points of view and not feel uncomfortable about it.

Do we decide by majority (or plurality) rule? In that case, how much do we want to accommodate the rights of the minorities?

Liquid Egg Product / November 6th, 2007, 11:11 am / #7

(PS. I know those numbers don’t add up to 100% I forgot to mention there are undoubtedly other points of view that I didn’t mention or think of.)

Liquid Egg Product / November 6th, 2007, 11:18 am / #8

(PPS. That I can argue on behalf of mutually exclusive beliefs makes me a perfect fit for politics ;) )

BlackSun / November 6th, 2007, 2:52 pm / #9

When in a doctor’s care, the objective standard is the condition of the patient. In the case when a person’s life could be easily saved, it is the obligation of the doctor to perform life-saving treatment. If the woman wanted to kill herself, she should have checked out of the hospital. That way everyone would have been clear about what they were doing. Signing a consent form for withholding treatment for religious reasons should be prohibited.

Likewise in the Terry Schiavo case, it was clear the woman was brain dead and therefore should not have been kept alive. Any objective scientist would have made the same determination.

You said:

What’s objectively right to group A may or may not be to group B. Let’s say 30% believe forcing life is the best choice, 30% want to leave it up to the individual, and 20% who thinks the Earth is over-populated and thus we should have a bias towards death. Who’s right? Who, objectively has the strongest argument?

Objective does not concern matters of opinion. An objective standard would only govern matters of fact. So if a person is brain-dead objectively, we don’t artifically keep them alive.

If a person has cancer, and specialists agree (objectively) they only have a short time to live, they have the right to end their suffering with the assistance of a physician, since the result would be the same in any case.

Objectively, the woman in question was 22 and had a long life expectancy. She also objectively had two young daughters. Putting aside such peripheral arguments as overpopulation, we can see objectively that there is more of a justification for her to live than, say an 80 year old with multiple sclerosis.

Again, I reiterate. The same standards for medical care should apply for everyone. No preference or bias for religion. If people want to kill themselves at home or jump off a bridge, OK. But society should not allow it in publicly managed facilities under a doctor’s care, (unless they are suffering and are a candidate for assisted suicide). To allow a young woman to die needlessly, when clearly her family wanted and needed for her to live, is a mockery of all that is compassionate and human.

A priori, we can say it is good to prolong human life and failing that, reduce human suffering in death. Those are the principles I will stand on against all bad arguments and tomfoolery.

Liquid Egg Product / November 7th, 2007, 8:43 am / #10

Objectively, the woman in question was 22 and had a long life expectancy. She also objectively had two young daughters. Putting aside such peripheral arguments as overpopulation, we can see objectively that there is more of a justification for her to live than, say an 80 year old with multiple sclerosis.

There would be those who would say the issue of overpopulation is not peripheral (although I’d agree with you here, this is opinion).

There would also those who would argue that saying a healthy 22-year-old has more of a justification to live than an sick 80-year-old is inheritly wrong. They would say that it smacks of ageism, and assigns a lesser value to a human simply because they are sick.

The facts themselves are objective. What is evaluated as most important is not objective. When we start talking about “putting aside” arguments as insignificant, it’s already stepping into the realm of subjectivity (unless there’s an objective reason why the argument has zero bearing on the issue)

A priori, we can say it is good to prolong human life and failing that, reduce human suffering in death.

I’m with you on the second. Not so sure on the first. Consider this reasoning: Because humans are currently harming the Earth more than helping it, it shouldn’t be a priority to promote human life until we get to a point where humans have a beneficial or neutral effect on the planet. As things currently stand, humans of today are harming the humans of tomorrow, so saving a life today indirectly damages life in the future.

Sometimes the mental disease of faith is so severe

Everyone believes some falsehoods; it can’t be helped. Humans have imperfect information, so come to imperfect conclusions. To insult people of faith does no good.

BlackSun / November 7th, 2007, 11:56 am / #11

There would be those who would say the issue of overpopulation is not peripheral

I mean peripheral to the woman’s decision to commit suicide. It’s not relevant to what goes on in hospitals–which is saving lives. It’s more of a question of public policy toward childbearing.

There would also those who would argue that saying a healthy 22-year-old has more of a justification to live than an sick 80-year-old is inheritly wrong.

I never made a value judgment, I simply said their justification for suicide differed because of the difference in time each had left to live. To ignore this is to deny the obvious.

I’m with you on the second. Not so sure on the first. Consider this reasoning: Because humans are currently harming the Earth more than helping it, it shouldn’t be a priority to promote human life until we get to a point where humans have a beneficial or neutral effect on the planet. As things currently stand, humans of today are harming the humans of tomorrow, so saving a life today indirectly damages life in the future.

Agreed, but this is far removed from the day-to-day decision making of saving lives in hospitals. You could make the same argument about people trapped in burning buildings. It’s not relevant. The issues of sustainability, product manufacture and resource use have far more bearing on the viability of future human life than simply indiscriminately lowering the population by not saving some lives in hospitals or fires. Really, this is far afield from the original discussion.

Everyone believes some falsehoods; it can’t be helped. Humans have imperfect information, so come to imperfect conclusions. To insult people of faith does no good.

The mind-virus analogy is correct. A virus infects and kills the host. In this case, this woman’s faith clearly killed her. Had she not objected to a transfusion, she would be alive today. That is an objective fact, not an insult.

Most human cognitive dissonance is relatively harmless. But when false beliefs directly affect a persons’ survival, that is in a different category. What if a religion told people they could breathe underwater, and members were drowning in droves. Should we “respect” those beliefs? Should we not try to tell people they’re wrong and save their lives?

Liquid Egg Product / November 7th, 2007, 9:44 pm / #12

This has gotten far afield. And this will be the last I have to post on this (unless you reply with something patently stupid, which you haven’t yet :D ) But I do appreciate your responses to everything. The arguments I presented, if you did not detect it, were mostly devil’s advocatish, mostly to demonstrate even that which seems obviously objectively correct may undergo scrutiny.

Frankly, I’m still quite uncomfortable with the idea of forcing someone to accept a medical procedure they don’t want to have. If government A, who does have people’s best interests at heart, is able to impose it, a more sinister or totalitarian government B would be able to impose it as well. (Ultimately, the doctors would need a forced medical procedure to be legalized by their government).

BlackSun / November 7th, 2007, 9:50 pm / #13

LEP,

I do agree there is the danger of a slippery slope with any government regulations. But there is also danger in the way it is now. I don’t have the perfect solution. But I sure as hell don’t like seeing healthy people die for their beliefs.

Anyway, thanks for the dialog. :-)

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