A child is severely injured in a car accident and only a blood transfusion will save its life. But its parents are Jehovah’s witnesses and passionately oppose blood transfusions. What is the doctor to do? This old dilemma has surfaced again but this time in the much disputed area of vaccination.
In Malawi, aided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the doctors are having no truck with religious objections to medical treatement. Appolo Chitsonga, a senior member of the Seventh Day Apostolic church in Nsanj, has been sentenced to 24 months imprisonment with hard labour for ‘endangering life by failing to supply necessities of life to a person under one’s care without lawful excuse’. His offence? He hid his children in a house to prevent them having a measles vaccine (his church does not believe in taking any medication and only believes in prayer for healing) and one child is thought to have died from measles.
In another related incident, 131 children belonging to the Zion and Atumi churches, whose parents had taken them to Mozambique to avoid vaccination, were finally vaccinated when the health officials, accompanied by armed police officers, tracked them down and ‘managed to vaccinate them’ under armed guard. (Both stories were reported in the Malawi Voice.)
In the UK and US religious objections to vaccinations are less common but there is a very vocal lobby who believes that our society, and particularly our children, are massively over vaccinated for the benefit of the drug companies who make the vaccines and who have the health authorities in thrall. (See the conference report A tablet a day keeps the doctor away and the many vaccine-damage-related websites.) But, however much truth there is in the theory that the massive increase in vaccinations seen over the last 20 years has little to do with their efficacy and everything to do with their profitablility, there remain a very large group of honest and conscientious medical practitioners who fervently believe that mass vaccination is essential if major outbreaks of potentially killer diseases are to be avoided and that exemptions should only be allowed on medical or religious grounds. See, for example, the position statement of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS).
We do not, as yet, vaccinate at gunpoint or condemn recaltricant parents to hard labour, but great pressure can be brought to bear on those who believe that vaccinations can cause more harm than good and who want to protect their children. Human rights are important here – as is the greatest good of the greatest number. So, somehow, accommodation through greater understanding and better communication has to be reached.
On a related, although different theme, is the ethics of child protection. You may remember that I posted back in April about the case of Maryanne Godboldo whose disabled daughter had been forcibly removed from her mother’s care and medicated by the Detroit health authorities. The case has now been dropped against Maryanne Godboldo, although she has not, as yet, regained custody of her daughter, but the case it murky and alarming. For more see Maryanne’s own website, and various reports on Natural News and their main source, the Voice of Detroit.