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A Jehovah’s Witness Appeals to Court on Right to Refuse Medical Treatment

December 8, 1994
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A Haifa resident who is a Jehovah’s Witness has appealed to the High Court of Justice to overturn a lower court’s decision forcing her to undergo a blood transfusion, a medical procedure which is against her religious beliefs.

While the High Court has previously ruled on the right of terminally ill patients to refuse medical care, it has never dealt with the rights of non- terminal patients.

Ella Coritini, 31, was hospitalized in Haifa last month with intestinal ulcers.

She agreed to a doctor-recommended operation but stipulated that should not she be administered a blood transfusion, even if her life was in danger.

The hospital objected to that condition, and the District Court upheld the hospital’s view, saying the Coritini could refuse the transfusion only as long as she was conscious.

But if she were unconscious, as is always the case when a general anesthetic is required, the hospital could perform a transfusion if necessary, according to the court.

Although no transfusion was in fact required when the operation was performed, Coritini filed an appeal with the High Court.

She said she took the step to obtain a ruling that would govern medical procedures in the future for herself and other members of her religion.

No date has been set for the High Court hearing.

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