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Monday, November 5, 2007

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father…

posted by on November 5 at 11:02 AM

Even if only for a few moments

Jehovah’s Witness mother dies after refusing blood transfusion after giving birth to twins

A devout Jehovah’s Witness died just hours after giving birth to twins—as her strict faith barred her from receiving a life-saving blood transfusion.

Despite desperate pleas from doctors, Emma Gough, 22, and her family, including her husband of nearly two years Anthony, 24, resolutely refused treatment. The young mother had time to cradle her newborn twins, a boy and a girl, before falling unconscious from heavy blood loss.

Speaking yesterday, family friend Peter Welsh, 24, who was best man at the couple’s wedding, said: “Everyone is devastated by what has happened. Anthony is in pieces.

“We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.”

Yeah, blame the technology. And Anthony ought to be in pieces—literally. But Mitt Romney no doubt approves. Remember what he said last week about the importance of opposite-sex parents…

Even where one member of the partnership may pass away, the memory and the characteristics of that gender, of that partner influence the development of a child.

So look on the bright side: those motherless twins will always have their memories.

Thanks to Slog tipper Matt.

RSS icon Comments


“We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.”

That statement is so profoundly stupid I can hardly catch my breath.

Please don't tell me they're blaming the hospital or the medical staff for this!

Posted by Irena | November 5, 2007 11:15 AM

More reasons people who believe in god should never have children.

Ever feel we are falling further and further into radical superstition?

Posted by Just Me | November 5, 2007 11:17 AM

Yeah all the technology there is today... trouble is that technology only works of you don't refuse to use it because your flavor of magical sky grandpa forbids it! Dumb Ass!

Posted by NELBOT | November 5, 2007 11:17 AM


Your comment may be as dumb as the people who would rather die than have a blood transfusion.

Posted by ahava | November 5, 2007 11:25 AM

When you refuse treatment, your family loses the right to criticize the doctors for not performing that treatment.

Posted by Greg | November 5, 2007 11:28 AM

And, in related news, many young women are dying from Nicauragua's new anti-abortion policy.

Sad how those who seek to control do more harm.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 5, 2007 11:28 AM

“We can’t believe she died after childbirth in this day and age, with all the technology there is.”

What? You mean "in this day and age" the POWER OF PRAYER isn't good enough?

You make the Great Father In The Sky angry with your lack of faith.

Posted by COMTE | November 5, 2007 11:35 AM

One less dumbass in the world...

Posted by BillyBob | November 5, 2007 11:36 AM

Fuck you.

Posted by Hal | November 5, 2007 11:38 AM

It's like something out of a fucking Simpsons episode.

Posted by Matthew | November 5, 2007 11:43 AM


How clever.

Posted by ahava | November 5, 2007 11:43 AM

Religion has one valid purpose/function, which is to give people something to believe in that is bigger than the horrible reality we confront every day (aka the pain of life). The problem is when they (meaning religious leaders) start to dictate morality and actions in the attempt to gain power/money/influence, which leads to the needless suffering of (some huge number of people), such as these now motherless twins.

Posted by The Gay Recluse | November 5, 2007 11:50 AM

Could someone show me where the fuck in the Bible it says "thou shalt not get blood transfusions"? I mean I've read the thing and everything but it was a long time ago so all I can remember is that stuff like "thou shalt not kill" and "if you pray, pray in secret and not in public" and all of that whacky stuff that that character Jesus talked about such as turning the other cheek, it being easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to get into heaven (something like that anyway) but I don't remember the part about no blood transfusions. Of course if the blood transfusions thing is true then it's just one more thing that's going to damn me for all eternity, I've had 11 pints of someone else's blood pumped into me but I'm kind of curious to find out if that's more or less of a sin than all of the lustful thoughts, fornication, masturbation, taking the lord's name in vain, etc, etc, etc that I've engaged in over the years.

Posted by wile_e_quixote | November 5, 2007 11:53 AM

@13 - I think it's only considered sinful to Jehovah's witnesses. They have a lot of weird rules unique to their sect. For example, it is against their beliefs to celebrate birthdays or recite the pledge of allegiance. Neither of those rules has any biblical basis, from what I recall.

Posted by Hernandez | November 5, 2007 11:59 AM

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Posted by Charlotte | November 5, 2007 12:00 PM

@ 13 & 14:

There is a passage in the bible they point to, something about "blood spilled on the ground" being unclean. They take that to mean *any* blood removed from the body for any reason. Once it's out, they don't let it back in.

Posted by Wolf | November 5, 2007 12:03 PM

Religious faith is a drug for some people.

Posted by Cat in Chicago | November 5, 2007 12:05 PM

Leviticus 17:12

"Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood."

Leviticus 17:14

"For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off."

These are the big passages that are used by the Jehovah's Witnesses to justify their rejection of blood transfusions and blood products (such as plasma). They are also the foundation of Jewish Kosher law (blood must be drained from butchered animals, etc). In fact, the J.W.'s have interpreted the second passage to mean that you will be cut off from heaven and unable to enter if you ever get a blood transfusion, EVEN IF IT IS GIVEN TO YOU AGAINST YOUR WILL.

Others will accept blood products (platelets, plasma) that don't contain red cells, and some will take blood that they have banked up for themselves previously. It all depends who you ask.

Interestingly, it is also this passage that is heavily enmeshed in the Eastern European tradition of the vampire (a damned creature that drinks blood, has eternal life, yet is unholy).

These passages are also oddly contradicted by the concept of communion, since the whole process involves the drinking of Christ's blood to gain eternal life (and actually ENSURE entry into heaven). It's all a bit mixed up, but it's not without precedent.

Posted by Moltarr | November 5, 2007 12:18 PM

it's not about blood being spilled on the ground. It's the passages about not eating blood. They feel that allowing it in the body via any portal is the same as eating it.

Really, any more questions, I'll be happy to answer. This in no way implies they are not bat-shit crazy, but they aren't batshit in the way most people think they are.

I had bloodless surgery and am alive today because of good technology. Deaths from this are much less common than before.

Posted by Tizzle | November 5, 2007 12:19 PM

P.S. Obviously I don't hold or support these views myself. I just report 'em.

Posted by Moltarr | November 5, 2007 12:19 PM

Or the opiate for the (m)asses.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | November 5, 2007 12:21 PM

@ 19 - Fortunate for you, that you had bloodless surgery. But that's much less possible with pregnancy and delivery.
Before elective surgeries, most people can donate their own blood ahead of a procedure. But in this woman's case, she could not do this while pregnant.
Plasma expanders and massive IV fluids can do only so much.
Postpartum bleeding is a life-threatening complication - anyone with religious objections to blood need to go into childbirth with eyes very wide open. (That's why a form/waiver is signed beforehand.)

Posted by Madashell | November 5, 2007 12:42 PM

Some Witnesses won't even accept albumin (a protein from blood) or recombinant factor VII, which is a clotting molecule cloned from human blood but produced by bacteria.

If you're a hard core Witness and you're having kids, you should consider finding a hospital where they have an interventional radiologist available 24:7. Perhaps this place did, but it still wasn't enough.

Posted by Moltarr | November 5, 2007 12:48 PM

There's a point where I think tolerance for religion must take a back seat to public health, and here's where I think it is. In particular, the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses are supposed to refuse transfusions even to their children is disturbing and crosses the line into neglecting the welfare of a child.

If nothing else, the state should put serious pressure on religious authorities until they finally cave in and find some half-assed rationalization for ending that part of the doctrine. (Much the way the government did with the Mormons, many years ago, actually.)

Posted by tsm | November 5, 2007 12:56 PM

@ 19: Ahh, thanks.

My friendly neighborhood JW pain-in-the-butt explained it when I asked about it once as "blood spilled" being "unclean." Maybe that was his own interpretation of the scripture.

Posted by Wolf | November 5, 2007 1:09 PM

In cases where the religious beliefs of parents endanger a child the state steps in via a court order to implement life-saving treatment such as transfusions. Most hospitals have an attorney who makes an emergency application to a judge in these cases. Blood transfusions are a routine case but I have seen chemo ordered for a child when the parents objected because they were firm believers in homeopathy. So it is not just religious belief that can cause an individual to reject a treatment modality.

Posted by inkweary | November 5, 2007 1:10 PM

I think the Bible has a "ten second rule" --blood spilled on the ground is unclean, unless you pick it up within ten seconds.

Then it's okay.

It's in the Apocrypha, somewhere, I think.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | November 5, 2007 1:24 PM

It is tragic when faith is so blind and so dogmatically followed that it results in something like this. Those poor babies will never know their mother and will most likely feel some sort of guilt, despite family and friends telling them it's God's will.

Posted by ahava | November 5, 2007 1:33 PM

Doesn't this belief conflict with the prohibition against suicide? Oh I get it, maybe it's not suicide if you choose to die in the process of upholding your beliefs. Hmm, sounds sort of like martyrdom.

Posted by MSW | November 5, 2007 1:42 PM

Hey, it's tragic and all, but I'll give her bonus points for walking the talk and not being a hypocrite--pretty rare these days.

Too bad no one told her that when you die the lights just go out.

Posted by Original Andrew | November 5, 2007 1:44 PM

as dumb as the people who would rather die than have a blood transfusion.

Posted by ahava |

Those silly rules God made for the Jews. You'd have to be retarded to follow any of them.

Posted by god hates cheeseburgers | November 5, 2007 1:58 PM

Sometimes there's a Jehovah's Witness handing out little magazines outside of the subway. I usually scope the title out before I accept it. Awake! makes for pleasant commute reading material. They might have an article on the Amazon, or some species of snake or something, and the only religious reference is in the last sentence where they say isn't it nice that God made such fascinating creatures. But if the guy's handing out The Watchtower, forget it. That one is way too Godded-up.

Anyways, one of the Awake! issues talked about the blood situation. It didn't mention anything religious, but it did spend a lot of time talking about these other "technologies." It was pretty convincing, and a complete idiot might've gathered from it that doctors could replace all the blood in your body with sweet, sweet technology.

Maybe these people read the same issue.

Posted by Bont | November 5, 2007 2:10 PM

While we obviously feel for the family, is it not interesting that in each of these type of stories that the journalists can unequivocally state that the patient would have lived it they had blood. I wish there were more people like this on the earth that can tell be 100% for certainty that if I do this or that I will live or die. And that for a certainty that I will NOT get hepatitis, aids or any other number of blood borne disseisees from blood. Plus, if I do get sick afterward, I am sure that they will take care to me and mine for going along with them. No thanks! Not for me and mine.

Posted by bob | November 5, 2007 2:13 PM


How do you know I follow any of those "silly rules God made for the Jews?"

And if I do follow them, maybe I am retarded.

I don't care who follows what. I just think that stating that anyone who believes in God should not have children is dumb.

And I think that it's tragic and dumb to turn one's back on one's children because of a few literally followed lines from the bible.

Posted by ahava | November 5, 2007 2:35 PM

This WatchTower Society requirement that Jehovah's Witnesses must refuse to accept any blood transfusions dates back only to 1945. Misinterpreting the Old Testament prohibition against eating animal blood as a routine food item, the WatchTower Society began teaching in 1945 that receiving a blood transfusion was "eating human blood". Jehovah's Witnesses believe that receiving an infusion of human blood into their body's circulatory system is scientifically the exact same thing as eating or ingesting blood into their body's digestive system.

"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 refuse to acknowledge that when human blood is transfused into their body's circulatory system that the transfused human blood remains to be human blood and continues to function as human blood. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that if blood is eaten, then the ingested blood enters the body's digestive system, where the blood would be treated by the body exactly the same as it would treat a hotdog, a potato chip, or any other food item. Ingested blood would be completely digested and broken down into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and waste; which are then either assimilated or excreted by the body.

The WatchTower Society uses scriptures which speak about the blood of slaughtered animals to teach Jehovah's Witnesses that blood is "sacred" because blood is the "symbol of life". Then, the WatchTower Society turns around and requires Jehovah's Witnesses to sacrifice their own "life" to maintain the alleged "sacredness" of a "symbol" of the very thing they are sacrificing -- their life. Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to acknowledge that the WatchTower doctrine on blood moronically places a higher value on the SYMBOL than it does on the THING SYMBOLIZED.

In fact, the Old Testament scriptures permitted the eating of unbled animal meat, which the Bible treats exactly the same as eating animal blood itself. In isolated occasions, when humans needed to eat unbled meat in order to sustain their own human life, the Mosaic Law permitted such, but then required the eaters to fulfill the requirements of being "unclean" for a few days. Thus, the Bible recognized that the sustaining of human life was more "sacred" than maintaining the sacredness of animal blood. To do otherwise would be doing exactly what the moronic WatchTower Society does. It would make the SYMBOL more SACRED than the THING SYMBOLIZED.

In fact, the WatchTower Society is leading Jehovah's Witnesses to disobey GOD and violate the Holy Scriptures in one of the most serious ways possible. Because humans were created in GOD's image, GOD considers human life sacred. A Jehovah's Witness who sacrifices their SACRED LIFE in order to maintain the sacredness of a SYMBOL of that SACRED LIFE varies little from those who profane life by committing suicide. Those Jehovah's Witness Elders who teach and police this moronic doctrine vary little from common accessories to murder. The Bible is fairly clear in how GOD views murder, and how He deals with Murderers.

This moronic twisting of scripture would be laughable if not for the fact that it has lead to the pointless deaths of numerous Jehovah's Witnesses in the past, and it will continue to lead to the pointless deaths of many more Jehovah's Witnesses in the future.


The following website summarizes over 315 U.S. court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah's Witness Parents, including 200+ cases where the JW Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions for their dying children:


Posted by Jerry Jones | November 5, 2007 2:38 PM

I'm surprised the hospital did not use Ringer's Lactate or Saline Solution or any number of other non-blood expanders available. The hospital staff I'm sure did everything they could, including having the mother sign that she would not hold the hospital accountable should she die due to not having a blood transfusion; she knew the risks. And yes it is amazing that in this country in 2007 women still die in child-birth. And there is NO assurance that a blood transfusion would have changed the outcome.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | November 5, 2007 4:02 PM


I really don't understand either why Jehovah's Witnesses would not have a exception in the case of a life-or-death situation.

As crazy as some of the Orthodox Judaism halacha (religious law/lifestyle) might be (speaking as a Reform Jew here), at least there's a provision that if someone's life is in danger, you break every law in the books in order to save them.

Posted by lymerae | November 5, 2007 4:21 PM

This is so sad. The Testigo de Jehovah branch of my family explained that it is far worse to lose one's relationship with Jehovah by accepting/allowing a blood transfusion than it is to simply die and preserve that precious relationship.

Of course this is the branch who also seeks cat food that does not contain blood products, since they love their cat very much, and want to preserve his chance of that cool relationship with Jehovah. . .

Religions are nutty and dangerous. Not a news flash for any of us.

Posted by luisita | November 5, 2007 6:35 PM

...i am mystified why having babies in a HOSPITAL is okay by jehovah's witnesses, but declining blood transfusions is not...? if they weren't going to use the services that hospitals are, you know, rumored to provide, they should have whelped at home with a good old kettle of hot water.

Posted by pretentious | November 5, 2007 7:18 PM

A few points:

The comment about "the technology available" was not made by the husband, but by a family friend, who may or may not be jehova's witness.

* It's not as if the LDS or other Jehova's witnesses came in and prevented this woman from getting a transfusion. Like it or not, these people made their own decision. If you think this is stupid, the implication is that we should allow doctors to do whatever they like to use with or without your approval.

Posted by MRB | November 5, 2007 8:04 PM

what a stupid religion. "DUHHHHH....I'm a Jehovah's witness!" "duhhhh I think it is right to wander around in the pouring rain and knock on people's doors to give them pamphlets....BUT I just sit around and let my wife die when I can prevent it!" DUHHHHHHH...I love a blonde haired carpenter who died 2007 years ago more than my own wife!"

Posted by .... | November 5, 2007 8:53 PM

that's it.....I am officially declaring wednesday november 7th as "open your front door and kick the jehovahs witness in the nuts" day.

Posted by the troll | November 5, 2007 8:56 PM

lets put this into perspective.....A carpenter from 2007 years ago told this dude to let his wife die......a damn CARPENTER!! I mean...2007 years from now do you think people are going to be praying to bob villa? Do you think that some dude is going to be sitting in a hospital room thinking..."hmmmm maybe I should let my wife die because Bob villa told me to." NO! stop letting a goddamn carpenter run your lives....The only thing jesus could do if he actually comes back to earth is build you a new deck or maybe a shed....ok....he is not a freaking holy god....he was the Bob Villa of ancient times.....that is who you are praying to.

Posted by ....... | November 5, 2007 9:02 PM

yeah....if jesus returns he will be working at home depot wearing a little name tag that reads "Jesus". and this is the guy that you are taking major medical advise from?

Posted by =) | November 5, 2007 9:06 PM

I know I'll go to hell for saying this, but if Jesus came back he would be waiting outside the Home Depot for jobs like all the other Jesus's. Jesuses? Jesusii? You get my point. Still, even as a church hating agnostic, I find that little rant above me insulting. Way to take the higher ground and just live and let live and all. Rabid anti-spiritualism like that is the reason conservatives think liberals are incapable of rational debate.

By the way, who else is reminded of the saying about how religion is like a hand pointing to the moon? People get fixated on the hand and forget what it's showing them.

Posted by MaliceAlice | November 6, 2007 2:28 AM

@36: There's only so much that blood expanders can do; they don't circulate oxygen, they simply provide extra fluids to be pumped around (and yes they are used if someone is hemorrhaging -standard procedure). At a certain point (level III hemorrhage), your body needs more red blood cells to re-oxygenate your system. It is likely that she would have survived with a blood transfusion since the cause of death in a hemorrhage is loss of blood. A transfusion would have kept enough blood going in her until she was able to clot. It is the most common cause of death at birth, however, with a transfusion the risk is fairly small. The risk of contracting a disease such as HIV or Hepatitis from blood products is exceedingly rare nowadays. When the risk of dying is 100% and the risk of contracting a blood-borne illness is 1: 1.3 million or thereabouts, I would choose the transfusion.

Posted by printer | November 6, 2007 8:53 AM

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