Irreconcilable beliefs shattered family
Parents clash over transfusions led to divorce
A bitter clash between
religious beliefs and medical treatment led to the ultimate breakup and
bankruptcy of a
Court of Queens Bench
Justice Rosemary Nation said in her 29-page decision the catalyst for the
breakup between Lawrence and
Hughes and their
two daughters was differing opinions on whether their oldest daughter, Bethany,
should receive blood transfusions,
All members of the family
had been Jehovahs Witnesses for nearly 20 years and were opposed to receiving
blood products when
She died at age 17 in September
2002 about seven months later.
Lawrence Hughes changed
his position after discussions with doctors and fought to have his daughter
receive what he believed was the best medical care.
There is no question that
Calgary lawyer Vaughn
Marshall, who assisted Lawrence Hughes in the proceedings, said the case is
important because it makes it clear the real cause of the family breakup was
the opposing religious positions taken by the parents in a life-and-death
decision regarding their daughter.
Youd think their
religious beliefs would provide comfort to a husband and wife whose child was
stricken with a life-threatening illness and guide the family through the
But, in this case, it not
only failed to do that, it destroyed the family.
First, Lawrence Hughes lost his daughter,
he lost his family.
is pleased that has been clarified and cleaned up he said.
Brady also said Nation did
recognize in a couple of passages it was the maturity of
Her view all the way
along and the evidence led in court was that the family had problems even
before Bethany got sick, and this is just one tragic, tragic result of the
familys circum stances, said Brady.
Lawrence Hughes testified
during the trial he incurred more than $200,000 in legal fees and paid $20,000
of it out of his own pocket, pushing him into bankruptcy.
I do recognize that the
religious views of the Jehovah Witness faith, as they were presented in court
by the father and not contradicted in court by the mother, would lead members
of the faith (which would include Mrs. Hughes and two daughters) to disagree with
the position of Mr. Hughes in relation to blood transfusions and reject him
because of those views, wrote Nation.
She added, however, she
did not believe either parent defending their religious belief as it relates to
a matter as fundamental as the medical treatment of their child, could be
considered misconduct under the Divorce Act.