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Public Health Trust of Dade County v. Wons

Supreme Court of Florida
541 So.2d 96 (1989)


Norma Wons (plaintiff), a mother of two minor children and a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, entered a hospital operated by the Public Health Trust of Dade County (PHT) (defendant), with uterine bleeding. Without a blood transfusion, Wons would die, but her religious beliefs prohibited the procedure. Wons was conscious, competent, and able to make an informed decision and refused to give consent to the transfusion. PHT asked the court to for permission to conduct the transfusion despite Wons’ refusal, which the court granted. The procedure was thereafter completed while Wons was unconscious. The trial judge reasoned that minor children had a right to be raised by two loving parents. This interest superseded Wons’ right to free exercise of her religion. Upon regaining consciousness, Wons appealed the decision. The appellate court reversed, holding that Won’s constitutional rights of religion and privacy could not be overridden by the state’s interests. PHT then appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hubbart, J.)

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