Since 2000 the Watchtower Society has been forced to change its semantics on how it handles punishing members for taking life-saving blood transfusions. The European Court of Human Rights allegedly negotiated this change when the country of Bulgaria refused to acknowledge the Watchtower Society as a religion.
AJWRB in tracking the development of these changes, has searched for any actual occurrences of active JWs who were "disassociated" for taking blood transfusions. No one was found.
In the past Watchtowwer members could not be pinned down as to whether they would not "disfellowship" someone for taking a blood transfusion, even long after the 2001 semantic change in which the penalty became "disassociation." Just recently, however, they categorically have stated to AJWRB that taking a blood transfusion is "not a disfellowshipping offense."
"This is yet another subtle semantic change for those not intimately familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses, but to the trained, experienced Jehovah’s Witnesses, this is a loud 3 alarm fire," said Danny Haszard, a critic of the group. "They are literally saying, 'taking blood is not a serious enough sin to get one disfellowshipped now.'"
But Haszard explains, "Getting 'disassociated,' carries with it exactly the same sentence as getting 'disfellowshipped.' It causes complete social death in an individual's life. All contact with family and friends are severed under the threat of those family and friends also being punished. However, Haszard believes that if taking blood is no longer a "disfellowshipping" offense, then it should no longer be a "disassociating" offense.
Countless members, including children, have died since the ban on blood took effect in 1945 under the direction of the Watchtower's third president, Nathan H. Knorr. Fortunately, through the years changes have occurred, according to AJWRB. First, they did away with the ban on vaccinations. Then in 1978 they openly allowed factor VIII (platelets) after allowing them in secret for some years to callers. Then they allowed organ transplants.
In 2001 the Watchtower's blood ban was criticized by an elder from Alabama, known as "R. Jensen." He eventually resigned after explaining he could no longer defend the ban.
One thing is for certain, though, Haszard says, "For the WT to admit that they were wrong would cause too great a stir in their ranks, so any changes must be presented as 'new light' in order to make it appear that 'Jehovah' is making the changes, rather than a few men on the governing body."
An anonymous member, after saying that "it is still wise to refuse a blood transfusion," then said, but, since we are reasonable people, we should not reject a blood transfusion when circumstances leave no other option." It seems that the conditioning to think otherwise may be wearing off.