Ethical perspectives on Jehovah’s Witnesses’ refusal of blood
MARTIN L. SMITH, STD
Staff bioethicist and vice-chair of the Ethics Committee at the Cleveland Clinic. Since 1995 president of the Bioethics Network of Ohio.
When Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood, they regularly ask their physicians to explore and provide all other medically and scientifically based alternatives, even when these alternatives may not be as effective and may carry risk of failure that could lead to physical disabilities or death. An awareness of the values at stake and of other cases from personal experience and the literature can help physicians, patients, and their families to move toward ethically responsible decisions and actions.