It’s a matter of faith.
It’s a matter of medical science.
That’s the dichotomy that’s landed a grieving father and some lawyers in court, over a matter of life and death.
Lawrence Hughes’ daughter Bethany was a devout Jehovah’s Witness who came down with leukemia. Under the tenents of her religion, she refused to have a blood transfusion that her father believes could have helped save her life. She later died from the disease.
Now he wants his day in court, blaming the religious order and the two lawyers who represented her.
“I’ll never give up until there’s justice,” a bitter Hughes relates. “What the defendants did to my daughter was despicable, cruel and criminal. If the Watchtower Society had left my daughter alone, she would have had a fighting chance to live.”
The Society believes it’s against God’s wishes for one person to take blood from another. But Hughes is adamant the group has misinterpreted the scriptures and brainwashed his daughter into refusing a transfusion, even after it was ordered by the courts.
But he isn’t legally allowed to sue them so he’s going after their lawyers instead.
“If Bethany had taken a blood transfusion, she would have been shunned by her family and by all the friends that she had been allowed to have all her life,” he complains. “That’s a lot of pressure on a 16-year-old kid who has leukemia.”
Bethany eventually received 38 transfusions, but by the time they were administered, it was too late. She died in 2002, leaving her father bitter and furious. She was only 17-years-old.
Since then, Lawrence Hughes has become a man with a mission – get justice for his daughter who he believes lost her life for nothing. He’s asked the R.C.M .P. to charge the religious group’s legal team with murder. But the advocates maintain they were simply following their client’s orders.
“It was totally my decision, and I’m the one who enforced it,” Bethany made clear in a statement before she died.
Lawyer David Gnam understands the father’s loss and his wrath, but doesn’t believe he has a case. “Mr. Hughes is trying to put words into the mouth of his daughter that she would never have said while she was alive,” he insists. “Her position was very clear.”
Hughes contends his only recourse now is to appeal the decision that prevents him from suing the Watchtower Society.
But he claims he’s not alone, and has thousands of people on his side.
He’s hoping most of them show up on Saturday when he holds a protest outside the Society’s headquarters in Georgetown.