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Jehovah's Witness parents' legal win means child with cancer can skip blood transfusions

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The parents of a 14-year-old boy with bone cancer won a legal challenge against a Mesa hospital that attempted to override their religious objections to blood transfusions.

The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that a lower court's emergency hotline used by hospitals to authorize medical treatment on behalf of patients is not allowed under state law.

The parents of a 14-year-old boy with bone cancer challenged Banner Cardon Children's use of a Maricopa County Superior Court emergency hotline to authorize blood transfusions on behalf of the child. The parents and boy are Jehovah's Witnesses and objected to blood transfusions on religious grounds. 

While Banner Cardon's medical-treatment plan initially consisted of alternative therapies to fit the parents' religious views, hospital staff later determined that blood transfusions were medically necessary. 

Hospital staff called the Maricopa County Superior Court hotline multiple times from October through December last year to seek authorization for the blood transfusions. The court granted three of five requests, according to court documents.

The parents filed a petition with the Arizona Court of Appeals seeking to halt the transfusions.    

The parents, identified as Glenn and Sonia H., argued that the Superior Court hotline "lacked jurisdiction" for such emergency medical requests and also argued that hospital staffers did not justify the medical need for blood transfusions. 

The lower court said that such emergency requests were "standard practice" nationwide and the hotline rotated among Superior Court judges who answered requests after hours. 

In an opinion written by Judge Kenton D. Jones, the appellate court concluded that the question of whether the lower court had jurisdiction to OK emergency medical treatment was one "of significant statewide importance."

Jones noted that Arizona law allows a Juvenile Court that has jurisdiction over a child to order a parent or guardian to get medical treatment for a child. However, the appellate court did not find any such jurisdiction for a Superior Court emergency hotline.

"Our review of Arizona statutes and rules of procedure reveals no provision ... authorizing the superior court to maintain an emergency hotline for the purpose of ordering medical treatment for a non-consenting minor," Jones wrote. 

Therefore, the lower court's order authorizing medical treatment on behalf of the boy is void, the appellate court said. 

The parents filed the appellate-court action in November but did not request a stay of the lower court's order. The boy received blood transfusions on Dec. 1 and Dec. 5 before his parents relocated his care to a medical facility in Portland, Oregon. 

Banner Health officials said the health-care provider has not yet decided whether to appeal the appellate court's decision.

Representatives of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, which filed a legal brief on behalf of the parents, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

A Jehovah's Witnesses website said the religion considers blood transfusions a "religious issue rather than a medical one," citing multiple biblical passages.

Patients who develop certain types of cancer, such as leukemia, often require blood transfusions as a part of treatment.

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      (ii) Organ transplants were allowed by the WT up to 1967, but were forbidden in 1967 saying that ‘organ transplants amounted to cannibalism and are not appropriate for Christians’ (WT, 15 Nov 1967, p 702-4, and Awake 8 June 1968, p 21). Hence all organ
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      QUESTION: Why does the WT keep changing its mind on medical issues?
      QUESTION: Is it right for an infallible prophet of God organisation (such as the WT claims to be) to keep changing its mind.
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      The dog’s handler is Bethesda Police Chief Eric Smith, who was suspended in April and is being investigated by the Ohio Attorney General’s office for allegations that he misused the state’s law enforcement data sharing system. Misuse of the system is a felony, the attorney general’s office has said.
      The mayor said Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas has agreed to take Frankie.
      “The sheriff has guaranteed that the dog will be used in our village as needed,” he said.
      Meanwhile, two more full-time police officers have resigned from the Village of Bethesda Police Department. Both had served as resource officers for the Union Local School District.
      Lucas announced Thursday the resignations of Francesca Y. Ceccanese and Kyler Hanlon. They join the roster of resignations of police, council members and the former solicitor who have left in the wake of an investigation of Smith.
      Lucas said the village’s contract with the school district ends with the school year. He said the village would determine at a later date if it intends to pursue renewing the contract with the school district.
      Mike Menges, safety director at the school district, said Thursday night that the district had hired retired state highway patrolman Jason Greenwood as its safety officer coordinator. However, he also said he could not comment on the status of the district’s contract with the village of Bethesda. He said Bethesda police officers are still in Union Local buildings.
      After the most recent resignations, the police force has one full-time patrolman, Pete Busack; Fred Thompson, who is serving as interim chief in an administrative-only role; and four part-time officers.
      Lucas also said the village had received more complaints about how people were treated while Smith was leading the department. He said the village had received notification from legal representation of Jehovah’s Witnesses alleging that the police department, under Smith’s administration, had harassed Jehovah’s Witnesses and told them to leave. The religious group’s lawyers did not specify an officer’s name or a date when the harassment may have occurred.
      “I’ll seek some legal advice on returning a letter to this attorney, saying that will no longer happen,” Lucas said.
      Lucas also said Bethesda is aware that the village of Belmont intends to form its own police department. Bethesda’s contract to provide law enforcement will for Belmont will end June 1. Belmont officials have said this is unrelated to Bethesda’s police department issues. Lucas said the departments will have an agreement of mutual aid.
      Also, Busack gave an update on the state of the village’s police department. He said he and Thompson have focused on reorganization.
      “We haven’t had a lot of patrol due to the fact that we have a lot of office work,” he said.
      Among the issues they’ve had to address is creating a system of keeping track of an officer’s keys during shifts and removing the tinting from the front windows of the patrol cars.
      “You want to be able to look outwardly and wave to people when they wave back at you, and when you have black windows, which, No. 1, is illegal in the State of Ohio on the front windows, you can’t see in,” he said.
      He also said removing the tint will allow better communication with other motorists.
      “The entire office, in our opinion, was out of order, and it still to a degree is out of order, and things like that can’t be fixed overnight,” said Busack who also said they were in the process of organizing the evidence room and weapons cabinet.
      “I tried to account for all the weapons, tasers and related equipment,” he said. “In the future, we will do a full inventory of the weapons and of the evidence that’s in there.”
      Additionally, an activity log will be available for council members to access and see the daily activities of police officers. Busack said no sensitive information would be included.
      “Chief Thompson and I will work to restore the trust, confidence and integrity to the citizens of the village of Bethesda and all the surrounding communities,” Busack said.
      “I appreciate your efforts,” Lucas said. “I can’t thank you enough for trying to put this back together.”
      Also, Lucas announced the current $210 fines for speeding tickets would be reduced. He also said that it is the province of mayor’s court to set fines. A new amount will be determined.
      Also, the council will henceforth meet 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month and the fourth Thursday.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The Jehovah’s Witnesses community in the Netherlands will not hold an independent inquiry into the sexual abuse of members, despite being urged to do so by justice minister Sander Dekker. By last month, 267 reports of sexual abuse involving Jehovah’s Witnesses had been made to a hotline set up by the Reclaimed Voices foundation in 2017 after Trouw published a report on the growing scandal. Dekker told RTL Nieuws on Tuesday that the organisation’s decision is ‘disappointing’ and that it is ignoring the victims who want to be heard. He has no powers to force the organisation to hold an inquiry.
      Read more: 
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      On Friday, May 25, 20/20 will do "something special" for longtime co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas.
      You can call it a going-away party (10/9c, ABC). After 22 years at ABC (14 with the newsmagazine), the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning veteran journalist heads to A&E, where she’ll work under their new primetime banner, A&E Investigates.
      Tell us about your first two A&E shows.
      They’re the first in a nine-part series called Cults and Extreme Beliefs(premieres Monday, May 28, 10/9c). Each episode centers on a person who recently left the group we focus on.
      Our premiere looks at the [so-called “self-help”] NXIVM ring that made headlines when leader Keith Raniere and actress Allison Mack, a high-ranking member, were indicted for sex trafficking. We talk to Sarah Edmondson, who feels enormous regret that she recruited so many people into NXIVM and we follow her as she reaches out to some of them.
      And the second episode?
      It’s about an apocalyptic cult called Twelve Tribes. Our contact is a woman born into the group, cut off from the outside world. She now helps people to escape.
      What have you learned about these insular communities?
      That many of those involved are bright, well-meaning and incredibly altruistic. Some of these groups exist alongside modern society, with no one noticing. For instance, we profile the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has a history of protecting alleged child molesters because they don’t believe in going to the police.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Polls conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post revealed 36 percent of U.S. respondents in 2017 term themselves as Protestant faith members. A sharp drop from 2003's 50 percent. The statistics include a drop of eight points in evangelical white Protestant numbers. The number of Christians all in all has mirrored the predicament of Protestants. From the 83 percent of 2003 to 72 percent in 2017, the declining numbers are in stark contrast to the section of the U.S. population responding with “no religion” which have almost doubled to 21 percent. Self-identification of Catholics at 22 percent remain constant during this time. The number of adults who identify with other strands of Christianity like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses went up marginally, from 11 percent to 14 percent. Trends are more pronounced among the American youth; only 19 percent of all adults under 30 years of age in 2003 claimed to have no religion. In 2017, that percent went up to 35 percent. These figures can be compared with the 22 percent who term themselves to be affiliated with any kind of Protestantism. These figures are significant as they denote a perceptible shift in power.

      Read more at World Religion News: "Sharp Drop in White Evangelicals in U.S." https://www.worldreligionnews.com/?p=51977

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Along with Bible teachings and online lessons on how to lead a good life and find peace and happiness, the Jehovah Witnesses website at JW.org also offers serious insight and words of caution to parents about sexual child abuse.
      And, that makes the recent Philadelphia Inquirer story alleging that Jehovah's Witness elders have repeatedly covered up sexual abuse of members' children, shunned members and victims who raised complaints of child abuse and have impeded police investigations into abuse allegations even more shocking.
      Among the victims of the Witnesses' shunning and stonewalling tactics interviewed by Inquirer reporter David Gambacorta were:
      The parents of a 4-year-old New Cumberland girl who was molested at the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall in Red Lion A Spring Grove woman who was molested when she was a teen by a Witness who was a family friend A York woman who was molested in her teens by a couple she knew through the Jehovah's Witnesses. Three defendants identified in the Inquirer investigative piece were prosecuted and sentenced in York County. A fourth is awaiting prosecution.

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      (The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
      Robert A. Sedler, Wayne State University
      (THE CONVERSATION) New Hampshire’s state motto “Live free or die” is, for many residents, a stirring evocation of the independent spirit of colonial America.
      But not all New Hampshirites agree with this well-known slogan that is emblazoned on the state’s license plates. In 1975, George Maynard was sent to jail because he didn’t believe in it.
      Maynard and his wife were Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that teaches that true believers will enjoy eternal life. The couple felt that the state’s motto violated this tenet. So Maynard covered up the “or die” part on his vehicles’ license plates.
      Police gave him three different tickets for illegally altering the plates. When he refused to pay the fines, which totaled US$75, he was given a 15-day jail sentence.
      Maynard then filed a lawsuit that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment gave Maynard the legal right to cover up those two words. In other words, the First Amendment – which guarantees the right to free speech – can also give people the right to remain silent.
      I am a legal scholar, so when I learned that the Supreme Court will decide two right-to-silence cases this term the Maynard case came to mind.
      The Maynard decision was not the first time the court ruled in favor of a Jehovah’s Witness’ right to be silent. Both decisions hinge on the justices’ determination that the First Amendment includes, in the court’s words, the right “to avoid becoming a ‘mobile billboard’ for the State’s ideological message.”
      It may sound contradictory to say the right to be silent flows from the right to speak, but it is not.
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Anyone who regularly takes the el or subway has seen them.
      They stand quietly smiling with carts of religious publications, out on the sidewalk when it's nice out, and in the "unpaid" area of the station near the Ventra machines or turnstiles when the weather is inclement. The women are dressed modestly but sharply, and the men look natty as well, often wearing sport jackets and fedoras.
      They are volunteers from the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination that claims 8.4 million members in 240 countries.
      Though I'm not interested in converting, I sometimes stop and say hello and pick up a copy of The Watchtower or Awake! out of courtesy, since I find their cheerful vibe oddly comforting. They're certainly more agreeable than the Old Navy Street Preacher, who hangs out at Randolph and State railing against fornicators and cigarette smokers.
      But not everyone appreciates the Jehovah's Witnesses' presence at transit stations. Kevin Havener, an Edgewater resident who often commutes via the Red Line, contacted me to share a message he sent to the transit authority, to which he says he never got a response. He claimed that the Witnesses' practice of offering literature inside el stations violated a guideline in the agency's Rules of Conduct warning against the distribution of written materials on CTA property.
      "I find this inexplicable permission deeply, personally offensive," Havener's message read. "Would the CTA allow other religious proselytizing [by groups] such as [Orthodox Jews], or Buddhists, or Hare Krishnas? OF COURSE NOT."
      Havener eventually revealed to me that he has a horse in this race. About a decade ago he and other members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an activist group, wanted to hand out leaflets inside the Fullerton el stop in Lincoln Park. When they asked the CTA customer assistant for permission, they were told they needed to be out on the public sidewalk far away enough not to block any station doors. "That made perfect sense, and that's what we did," he said.
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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      ST. PETERSBURG, May 3. /TASS/. The St. Petersburg city court has upheld the decision to confiscate from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania in New York the compound in the community of Solnechnoye on the Gulf of Finland and convert it to state property, the St. Petersburg courts’ press service said on Thursday.
      Earlier, a court of lower instance found that officially the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia in 2000 donated the real estate compound on the coast of the Gulf of Finland to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, registered on US territory. However, according to the courts’ press-service, the Administrative Center continued to use the facilities as before, which was a reason enough to declare the transaction fictitious and void. The property was taken over by the state.
      The compound consists of sixteen items - plots of land, homes and buildings more than 880 million rubles ($13.9 million) worth.
      Earlier, TASS reported that the defendants had disagreed with the lower instance court’s ruling and filed an appeal at the St. Petersburg city court. In particular, they argued that substantive law had been violated and anti-extremist law sanctions were used against them without a reason.
      Russia’s Supreme Court had declared Jehovah’s Witnesses an extremist organization and outlawed its activity in Russia.


      More:

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    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The number of reports of sexual abuse within the Jehovah's Witnesses now stands at 267, Reclaimed Voices, a foundation that manages the hotline for this type of abuse, said to newspaper Trouw.
      Reclaimed Voices was established last year after Trouw published the stories of a number of Jehovah's Witnesses who were abused during their youth. One victim called the religious group a "paradise for pedophiles", because the Jehovah's Witnesses elders tend to keep sexual abuse quiet. In the first week of its existence, the hotline received nearly 50 sexual abuse reports. 
      According to the newspaper, the victims of sexual abuse asked the Jehovah's Witnesses elders for a meeting to discuss this abuse six months ago, but still haven't heard anything. This has a big affect on the victims, Frank Huiting of Reclaimed Voices said to Trouw. "They are angry, they haven't known where they stand for some time and feel disappointed about the entire process. They still aren't being heard, is what it comes down to."
      Minister Sander Dekker for Legal Protection also instructed the leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses to start a conversation with the victims. 

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