This is more common than not in terms of law and religion: certain medical procedures. Believe it or not, religious beliefs can many times get in the way of common health practices that could very well save a person’s life. The unfortunate case about this dilemma is nothing stands as black or white in the matter. You have two sides here: a person has a right to have any spiritual belief, a right to choose for herself the course of her life (except for suicide); however, when involving children, we almost have a moral obligation to protect every single part of life no matter the cost.
This battle is currently continuing in Canada for one particular person: she’s a 14-year-old girl, a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, who will refuse to take any blood transfusions from her doctor in order to possibly save her life from cancer. You can see the dilemma here. According to some Scripture, Jehovah’s Witnesses must “abstain from blood,” which prohibits her from taking any transfusions, even if it means saving her life. Currently, she lost her case in front of the court to deny any such action deemed by medical authorities, but believe it or not this young teenager is continuing her “battle of blood.”
This raises many questions about the validity of certain laws and certain unalienable rights. The bottom line is this, though: while religious beliefs, however unalienable they may be, do not provide sovereignty against a higher cause, which is the preservation of life. This is only the case, though, for children; as it stands, the decision doesn’t reside on a child to choose for himself or herself. No matter the situation, if a child’s life can be saved, it must be, even if the child refuses for whatever reason.
Luckily this isn’t a situation involving adults, when religious beliefs become more heated. The area gets a little greyer there, unfortunately. Should a person have a right to refuse treatment, possibly risking his or life–for the sake of religious and/or spiritual belief? Only God knows….