For Immediate Release
June 15, 2000
Jehovah’s Witnesses reaffirm religious doctrine on blood transfusions
In an article published in the June 15, 2000, issue of The Watchtower, the main journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this Christian faith reaffirms its long-standing religious position on blood.
The article explains that the Bible commands Christians to “abstain . . . from blood.” (Acts 15:20). Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that obedience to this command rules out accepting blood transfusions. They have consistently held this position ever since blood transfusions began to be used widely in civilian medical practice in the 1940s, and their position is unchanged.
Medical issues, however, are often complex. As medical science has advanced, medical and ethical issues have become more involved. Whole blood is rarely transfused today. Rather, various components or fractions of blood are administered, depending on the condition being treated.
Decades ago, Jehovah’s Witnesses pointed out that Biblical statements would rule out accepting transfusions of the primary components of blood—red cells, white cells, platelets, and plasma. (See The Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 27, 1981, pages 2471-2, and Awake! June 22, 1982, pages 25-7.) So, out of obedience to God’s law, Witnesses have long refused those major components. But some have felt that their conscience would permit accepting fractions derived from one of the major blood components. The article in the June 15, 2000, issue of The Watchtower repeats this long-standing view, illustrating it with some recently developed fractions derived from major blood components.
Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage physicians to speak with patients so as to determine what the individual will accept according to his religious beliefs and personal conscience. In 1988, Jehovah’s Witnesses initiated a program to help both physicians and Witness patients. This program, Hospital Information Services, assists in resolving issues involving the medical use of blood to the satisfaction of patient and doctor. Jehovah’s Witnesses appreciate physicians who manifest respect for patients' right of informed choice in medical treatment.
Contact: J. R. Brown, telephone: (718) 560-5600