What was supposed to be the happiest day of Éloïse Dupuis’ life – the day she became a mother – instead became the last. Dupuis hemorrhaged while giving birth and, while the doctors managed to save her child’s life, they were helpless to save hers since Dupuis, a Jehovah’s Witness, had specifically withheld consent to a blood transfusion.
For those of us who are not religious, it’s difficult to understand why anyone would rather die than accept a life-saving procedure that presents little risk. That said, a bedrock medical principle is that intervention requires consent (save in cases where consent must be presumed, such as when a patient is brought to the hospital unconscious). Unfortunately, some have decided that this cornerstone of medical ethics and law should be set aside when a person refuses consent for what they deem to be unsatisfactory reasons. Read more