Saakashvili Weighs in on Jehovah's Witness Baby Treatment Case

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi/June 9, 2009

President Saakashvili made a televised intervention in a case involving a four-year-old girl's medical treatment, who required blood transfusion after sustaining burn injuries.

Reportedly her parents, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, refused to allow doctors to administer blood transfusion because of their religious belief and doctors allowed parents to take the girl back home after they signed a special form absolving doctors from responsibility.

Late on June 8 President Saakashvili met with Healthcare Minister, Sandro Kvitashvili, on the matter. Television stations showed on June 9, 2009 the footage of the meeting in which Saakashvili tells the Minister: “Are we the state or simply helpless observers? No matter how the law will be interpreted by various people. To save the life of a person, especially of a little child, is above their [parents'] religious beliefs or, lets say it directly, their whim and absolute unawareness and also above of any normative acts. I categorically demand to return this child back to hospital within next few hours. I instruct police and prosecutor's office to intervene and to bring this child [back to hospital] even with force if necessary and if other methods do not work. We should never allow in future that in the similar situation, when it is possible to save a person, either your doctors, or the law and state agencies appear in a helpless situation. It is absolutely unimaginable. Act immediately. I am not interested either in the opinions of her parents in this situation or anything else. Go, bring and save her. Then, the issue of such parents should be discussed separately by court.”

Then the television pictures showed patrol policemen taking the girl, lying on a stretcher, from the ambulance vehicle and bringing her into the hospital.

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