Quebec coroner investigating second case of Jehovah's Witness dying after childbirth

Quebec's health minister is now waiting on coroner reports into the deaths of two Jehovah's Witnesses who died after childbirth in the past month.

But Gaetan Barrette said there's not much doctors can do legally when patients refuse treatment - even ones that can save their lives.

A Quebec coroner is now looking into the death of Mirlande Louis-Cadet, who died October 3 following childbirth at St. Mary's Hospital. A coroner is already investigating  the post-childbirth death of Eloïse Dupuis in Quebec City October 12.

It's not clear in either case whether they independently refused blood transfusions, what discussions there were and what information about transfusions was given. Blood transfusions go against the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Barrette said by law,  doctors can't refuse patients' wishes to refuse treatment - even those that could save their lives - whether it involves an IV or a hunger strike.

"We are under oath to save lives but we we are also under oath to respect the decisions of patients. We are not above the law," said Barrette in an interview with CJAD 800 News.

"We have our guidelines, we have science, we know what we can do but at the end of the day, it's always about consent. I cannot impose on anybody any treatment."

Neither St. Mary's Hospital nor the Quebec College of Physicians would comment on Louis-Cadet's death. The order said it's waiting to see what the coroner reports say. St. Mary's said the file is confidential and that they respect the choice of patients with regards to medical treatments.