A woman was within her rights to refuse a blood transfusion even if she risked dying, said the Quebec coroner this week.
Eloise Dupuis, 27, died in Quebec on October 12, 2016 of multiple organ failure and loss of blood after a Caesarean section. A Jehovah's Witness, she insisted that she did not want to receive a blood transfusion. The coroner, Luc Malouin, said that she had made a free and fully informed choice.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that blood transfusions are forbidden by the Bible. Another Quebec woman of the same persuasion, 46-year-old Mirlande Cadet, died a few days earlier, on October 3, after complications in childbirth.
After studying the medical records, the coroner was convinced on Dupuis’s determination. She had said on five separate occasions that she did not want a transfusion. In studying her medical records, Malouin found five occasions when Dupuis told doctors she did not want a transfusion. “Refusal of transfusion even if death is the result,” one note said on the evening after she gave birth to her son Liam. After she was no longer able to give consent, her relatives, also Jehovah’s Witnesses, supported her decision.
The coroner noted that in Quebec, once deeply Catholic but now profoundly secular, religious convictions may be regarded with scepticism or even hostility, but people still have the right to live by them:
“At a time when a majority of Quebecers do not actively practise any religion, this notion of respecting religious rules seems to come from a different era. There was a time in Quebec when such rules were very present and governed the lives of all. It is no longer the situation today, but the choice to adhere or not to religious rules must be respected.”
And the law in Quebec is clear: adults of sound mind have a right to refuse medical treatment.
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