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After New Mom’s Death, Jehovah’s Witnesses Take Heat

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Jehovah’s Witnesses are defending their ban on blood transfusions after the death of a new mom in Quebec this month. Family members of Eloise Dupuis, 27, say she was influenced to decline a potentially lifesaving blood transfusion after a bedside visit by a “hospital liaison committee” of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the CBC reports. Dupuis, a practicing member of the church, died Oct. 12 after suffering a hemorrhage six days after giving birth by C-section. (Her baby is doing fine.) A Quebec coroner opened an inquest, but Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said Dupuis made the choice on her own. “She knew, and she made it clear, that if something was to happen, because of her religion she didn’t want any transfusion,” he told the CBC. A former church member describes the committees as “intimidating,” but the church defends them.

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They are “not surrogate decision makers for patients” and are “generally well received in the medical community and recognized as contributing to advances in bloodless medicine and surgery,” the church said in a statement. A spokesman says the church is confident the inquest will show the legal standard for consent was met. Dupuis’ aunt, Manon Boyer, isn’t so sure. She filed a complaint with police charging that the new mom was pressured into her decision. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible bars them from receiving blood, though the church is not supposed to interfere with a patient’s decision. Dupuis’ childhood friend, Cassandra Zelezen, tells the National Post that having a baby was Dupuis’ “biggest dream.” She adds, “It’s not normal that you have a baby at 27 and then die.”

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