Honoring Jehovah's Witnesses' advance directives in emergencies: a response to Drs. Migden and Braen

Acad Emerg Med. 1998 Aug;5(8):824-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1998.tb02511.x.


Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions out of obedience to the Bible's command to all Christians to abstain from blood. The Witnesses take this scriptural injunction seriously and, of their own initiative, execute advance medical directive cards to communicate their refusal to medical personnel in the event of their incapacity. In portraying the Witnesses' refusal of blood as the uninformed result of their subjugation by the Watchtower Society, Migden and Braen distort the facts about Jehovah's Witnesses, the basis for their refusal of blood, and their use of the blood refusal card. Further, not only does Migden and Braen's analysis subordinate patient values to professional preference in all cases, but the heightened scrutiny protocol they propose is useless because it cannot possibly be implemented in the hypothetical they posit. Finally, their legal analysis is not well founded and practitioners who choose to follow it will do so at their peril.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directives*
  • Blood Transfusion* / ethics
  • Blood Transfusion* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Christianity*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Ethics, Clinical*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Medical
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Treatment Refusal*
  • United States