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SOC 573 - Refusal of Medical Treatment on Religious Grounds James G. Anderson, Ph.D. Purdue University.

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Presentation on theme: "SOC 573 - Refusal of Medical Treatment on Religious Grounds James G. Anderson, Ph.D. Purdue University."— Presentation transcript:

1 SOC Refusal of Medical Treatment on Religious Grounds James G. Anderson, Ph.D. Purdue University

2 Religious Groups that Refuse Medical Treatment Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusion. Christian Scientists refuse most medical treatment. Instead they rely on the healing prayers of Christian Scientist Practitioners. The Faith Tabernacle Congregation in Altoona, PA believes that disease is caused by the devil.

3 Religious Groups that Refuse Medical Treatment Mrs. Bricci, a Pentecostal Christian in Chicago, won a legal battle with the Cook County Prosecutor and refused a court- ordered Cesarean section. In the U.K., against the wishes of the Roman Catholic parents, the courts ordered the separation of conjoint twins that resulted in the death of one child.

4 Arguments in Support of Parents who Refuse Medical Treatment Parents who refuse treatment argue that they have a right to practice their religious beliefs. They argue that they are not neglecting their child because they are concerned with their spiritual well-being. Members of religious groups frequently argue that most children will decide to join their religion when they reach adulthood.

5 Arguments in Opposition to Parents Who Refuse Medical Treatment Parents who refuse treatment do not have the right to martyr their children for their parents’ religious beliefs. Refusal of necessary medical treatment constitutes child abuse and neglect of their child under the 1974 federal Child Abuse and Treatment Act. Members of religious groups do not know with certainty that their children will decide to join the parents’ religion when they reach adulthood.

6 American Academy of Pediatrics The Committee on Bioethics states that all children deserve appropriate medical treatment that is likely to prevent substantial harm, suffering or death regardless of the parents’ objections on religious grounds.

7 Questions Does society have the right to determine that the medical professions’ code of ethics should override the parents’ religious beliefs? What does ‘harm’ mean regarding this issue? In cases involving religious beliefs, does harm apply only to allowing a child to suffer and die? Should harm to a child’s eternal life be also a consideration.

8 Questions When a child is in a life-and-death situation who should be the ultimate authority the doctor and society or the parents? Should there be limits on parental authority over their children? Should religious beliefs ever override society’s authority in cases involving children?


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