• Kyodo News


A family court, acting with unusual speed, took less than one day to suspend the parental rights of a couple who refused to let their son have a blood transfusion last summer, according to sources close to the matter.

The couple cited “religious reasons” for rejecting the blood transfusion for the 1-year-old boy. Notified by the hospital, a child consultation center filed the request with the family court because it regarded the parents’ refusal as constituting “medical neglect” — a form of child abuse.

Fumiaki Isogae, a lawyer knowledgeable about child negligence cases, praised the court, saying the speed of legal procedures has been the biggest problem in such cases.

Medical treatment for a child normally requires approval by the parents. Suspending parental rights for medical neglect typically takes about a week.

Last summer’s incident, which took place in eastern Japan, is an unusual example of a child consultation center, hospital and family court cooperating to expedite the legal procedures to make sure a child received urgent medical treatment.

According to the sources, the boy suffered symptoms of shock and was diagnosed with massive bleeding from the digestive tract due to unknown causes.

The hospital notified the child consultation center that the boy’s life was in danger, and around noon the following day the center asked a family court to suspend the couple’s parental rights as a stopgap measure until a conclusion on the matter had been reached.

The family court decided in about six or seven hours of deliberations that the child’s welfare must take precedence over the parents’ beliefs and accepted the center’s request.

Following the decision, the hospital provided treatment and the boy survived. The center later withdrew its request and the boy is now being raised by his parents again.

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