What happened in this hospital also happened in hospitals throughout the world. The issue brought about by religious freedom has caused a lot of untold suffering; not only to the patients, but also to the attending medical staff as well. This is a dilemma: should religious freedom extend to hospitals and in cases of life and death? Who has the right to decide?
The Sydney hospital was confronted with a difficult situation when a pregnant Jehovah’s Witness arrived having been diagnosed with leukemia. She had given her instruction that she was not to receive any blood transfusions due to her religious beliefs.
Putting the hospital staff in a tight spot, since procedures are needed to be carried out to treat and save the life of both the woman and her unborn baby, the rights of the patient had to be considered.
Then came the meaningless loss of the unborn child’s life in the mother’s ovary but was delivered vaginally, while the mother later on experienced organ failure and succumbed after 13 days of medical attention. as “Staff were distressed, grappling with what was perceived as two ‘avoidable’ deaths,” The Prince of Wales Hospital medical staff in Australia composed a letter which was published in the Internal Medicine Journal.
“There is little published information to assist physicians to manage their own anxieties, doubts and potential moral disagreement with the patient, and to help them maintain respect for a patient and continue to deliver good medical care,” they wrote.
The patient had firmly refused any kind of transfusion even when she knew where it would lead her to. Doctors attempted to treat her but decided on not treating her with chemotherapy since it was not safe. They also did not let her deliver through a Cesarean section .
“She would have had to have a classical Cesarean, and she most likely would have bled to death,” Kidson-Gerber had spoken to the Sydney Morning Herald. “The obstetricians weren’t comfortable with that when there was a chance we could have got her through.”
Although cases that include a pregnant woman’s decision that affect her unborn child brings up issues that question ethical and legal issues . A set standard on “feticide” conviction as an effect triggered a debate about pregnant women and their decisions .
The vice president of Australian Medical Association Steve Parnis said , that in Australia patients who are of sound mind are given their right to make their own decision as doctors are not compelled to apply medical treatment on them .