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The litigation to protect Jehovah’s Witnesses from unwanted blood transfusions, which their theology considers a violation of the biblical prohibition against drinking blood, has produced important changes in both the right to refuse treatment and in the preferred treatment methods of all patients. This article traces the evolution of the rights of competent medical patients in the United States to refuse medical treatment. It also discusses the impact this litigation has had on the medical community’s realization that blood transfusions were neither as safe nor as medically necessary as medical culture posited.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
6 Sep 2022
3.92 MB



  • Subject
    • Food and Drug Law

    • Health Law and Policy

    • Human Rights Law

    • Law and Society

  • Journal title
    • Alternatives to Blood Transfusion in Transfusion Medicine

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Suggested Citation:

      Charles H. Baron. "Blood Transfusions, Jehovah's Witnesses and the American Patients' Rights Movement." In Alternatives to Blood Transfusion in Transfusion Medicine, 2nd ed. edited by Alice Maniatis, Phillipe Van der Linden, and Jean-François Hardy, 531-558. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.