It has been reported in the news today that a mother died hours after giving birth in Shropshire. The details are still unclear pending an enquiry, but it seems that she died because she needed a blood transfusion after complications during the birth of her twins.
The technology was available: it isn't wholly uncommon to have complications during birth that require transfusions.
The blood was available: the doctors were desperate to perform the procedure.
She refused the blood that would save her life.
She refused by ticking a box on a form and this choice appears to have been upheld by her husband and family during the medical emergency in the hospital, whilst she lay dying on the bed with her newborn infants.
She chose death over life, and was supported in this grim choice that left her children without a mother because she and her family are Jehovah's Witnesses and refuse blood transfusions.
It's sad to think that a lot of people say that having children gives their life new hope and meaning – this is something that she and her family have denied themselves because of what would seem to the outside, rational observer to be a tragic devotion to a dubious set of beliefs.
One's thoughts turn to the surviving father and the children. the children who will be without a mother, and the father who supported his wife's decision to die in the name of a new take on Christianity dating from the 1870s. If it were me, I would wonder if I were a suitable father after choosing death for my wife in a parallel to the story of Abraham and Isaac.
But I think that would be too hard on the man and his family: religion's about social control as well as belief, and people in groups will often enforce the hardest line possible. It must have been a terrible dilemma; and the intense pressures from the church leadership must have been unbearable.
After surrendering your mind to the authority of those "above", what room is there for compassion, for protecting yourself, protecting your family, for doing what's right and what's natural?