PZ Myers at Pharyngula examines this question in an entirely different case. This is the case of 14 year old Jehovah Witness Dennis Linberg. Dennis died on Wednesday night at a Seattle area hospital because he refused to accept a life saving transfusion on religious grounds.
This is, indeed, a parent’s worse nightmare. Your child finds religion, in this case from some crazy religious aunt, and that religion leads the child to his death.
Doctors diagnosed the boy’s leukemia in early November. They began chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital, but stopped a week ago because his blood count was too low, the Skagit Valley Herald reported. The boy refused the transfusion on religious grounds.
However, his birth parents, Lindberg and Rachel Wherry, who do not have custody and flew from Boise, Idaho, to be at the hearing, believed their son should have had the transfusion and suggested he had been unduly influenced by his aunt, who is also a Jehovah’s Witness.
The final decision as to whether the boy should be forced to recieve the blood transplant came from John Meyer, a county judge, who said:
I don’t believe Dennis’ decision is the result of any coercion. He is mature and understands the consequences of his decision. … I don’t think Dennis is trying to commit suicide. This isn’t something Dennis just came upon, and he believes with the transfusion he would be unclean and unworthy.
And with that, the judge, and the child’s religious aunt, killed Dennis.