JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES OF MOSCOW AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
In this case, the European Court of Human Rights inter alia stated with respect to blood transfusions: freedom to accept or refuse specific medical treatment, or to select an alternative form of treatment, was vital to self-determination and personal autonomy. Many established jurisdictions had examined the cases of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had refused a blood transfusion and found that, although the public interest in preserving the life or health of a patient was undoubtedly legitimate and very strong, it had to yield to the patient’s stronger interest in directing the course of his or her own life. Russian law itself explicitly provided a right to refuse medical treatment or to request its discontinuation provided the patient had been given full accessible information about the possible consequences. There was no evidence that the applicant community had applied any improper pressure or undue influence on its members. Where the patient was a child, domestic law enabled a parent’s decision to refuse treatment to be reversed by the courts. In sum, no pressing social need or relevant and sufficient reasons capable of justifying a restriction on the individual’s right to personal autonomy in the sphere of religious beliefs and physical integrity had been shown.