J. Gordon Melton–Religious Freedom and Bloodless Liver Transplants

Last week, a three-judge state appeals court panel ordered the state of Kansas to pay for Mary Stinemetz to have a liver transplant performed in neighboring Nebraska. The reason? Ms. Stinemetz is a Jehovah’s Witness who believes that blood transfusions violate the tenets of her faith. So she sued to have Medicaid fund a more expensive, “bloodless” version of the procedure that her hospital in Kansas doesn’t perform.

Ms. Stinemetz’s case is not a historical oddity. Jehovah’s Witnesses, though they number only about one million in the U.S., have had an outsized influence on American jurisprudence.

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