"I don't believe Dennis' decision is the result of any coercion. He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision," Meyer said during Wednesday's hearing. "I don't think Dennis is trying to commit suicide. This isn't something Dennis just came upon, and he believes with the transfusion he would be unclean and unworthy."The Times writeup goes over some of the ethical implications:
Ethics experts and Jehovah's Witness officials said such a court case is unusual these days.Wondering if the ruling would be part of the public record, I called the court's clerk this afternoon. "I'm sorry, but the records are sealed," she told me. "We can't discuss the case, even over the phone." The legal world is strange: the judge determined that, at 14, Lindberg was adult enough to make the ultimate decision, and yet the law still treats him as a minor, keeping the details of his case from full public scrutiny.
Most cases involving transfusions stem from surgical cases, and current policy at Children's is to inform parents that while the hospital will do everything it can to avoid transfusions, it will not let a child die for want of blood, said Dr. Doug Diekema, an ethics consultant there.
Years ago, courts routinely supported transfusions of children against the wishes of parents, Diekema said. While adults have the right to refuse any medical treatment, the courts ruled, that right doesn't extend to their children.
"The principle there is that parents can make martyrs of themselves, but they can't make martyrs of their children," Diekema said.
With an adolescent, the situation is much more complex, he said. "We all know that 14-year-olds change their minds; they become adults, and they have completely different belief systems. And that makes you nervous."