On October 12, 2016, 26-year-old Eloise Dupuis entered a hospital in Levis, Quebec, Canada to give birth.
She never came home.
Dupuis began to hemorrhage while in labor and required a blood transfusion, which she allegedly refuse. She then died. According to the CBC, the child survived and is in good health. See this news story for more information.
Dupuis’ death, however, has now prompted an investigation by the coroner’s office, to see if medical mistakes were made and to note if she did indeed refuse a blood transfusion through an informed decision. The news article above states that Dupuis’ aunt and a group of her friends expressed concern that the family of Dupuis may have been the ones to pressure the medical staff into withholding blood, something forbidden among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
There are a few things to take away from this story; one is that the woman’s “friends” wanted the investigation done. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not typically allowed friends outside the religion, so it begs the question of whether or not Dupuis was a Witness or simply came from a family of Witnesses. Even if Dupuis was an active Witness herself, there might be some question about her firm belief in the religion’s teachings, if she had friends were not in the congregation. In turn, perhaps she did not agree with the decision to withhold a blood transfusion, if she were not a strong and devout member of the religion.
Another issue is that her family may very well have been the ones to demand that blood be withheld; with or without the woman’s consent, it shows the heartless cruelty of the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, that they would allow or even demand that someone die rather than accept a simple blood transfusion. The stand against blood transfusions itself is also confounding; Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that blood symbolizes life so that it cannot be “misused” in a transfusion. However, why would you elevate the symbol of life over a life itself? It’s like letting your spouse die in a fire while saving his or her wedding ring. The ring is just a symbol; your spouse is a living person. Why honor one while allowing the other to die?
This belief about blood and transfusions is also questionable from a biblical point of view. You can visit this page at JWfacts and note how no bible or Jewish scholars agree with the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation on the issue, how the doctrine itself is riddled with conflict, and how it’s actually changed over the years, bringing into question any guidance from god on the issue.
All of that aside, the damage has been done. A woman is dead; she cannot hold that beautiful child she brought into this world, cannot be there while he or she grows up and cannot comfort that child when he or she cries for its mother. That child will also grow up not knowing the beautiful woman that brought him or her into this world. Did he or she have any say in the matter; did the family or anyone else even consider if that child would agree to allowing this to happen to his or her mother?
It would be hopeful to think that perhaps this tragic death and the subsequent investigation will be one of many factors that prompt Jehovah’s Witnesses to rethink their policy on blood transfusions, but it’s not likely. When your family is so horrifically and obscenely indoctrinated that they would allow or even insist that you die so they don’t “misuse” a symbol of your life, setting aside any natural feelings for a beautiful young woman and an innocent newborn, they aren’t likely to change. When a governing body member of that religion stands in front of a crowd and talks about a “young fella” who also died because of refusing blood, and then eats up their applause (see this post), neither he nor anyone in the crowd is likely to change.
Jehovah’s Witnesses can brag to themselves that they’re not “misusing” the blood of strangers by transfusing it, but what excuse do they offer for the blood of their own family that they allow to be so callously spilled in exchange for their beliefs? Blood guilt is blood guilt, after all.