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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 18:07 GMT
Canada parents fight for babies
A blood bag
The parents refused to consent to the blood transfusions
A Canadian couple is protesting in court after officials briefly took custody of three premature babies in order to give them blood transfusions.

The babies were part of a group of sextuplets born 15 weeks prematurely to parents who are Jehovah's Witnesses.

The couple, who have not been identified, say their religion forbids blood transfusions. They are seeking alternative treatment for the infants.

They have filed court papers to try to prevent officials stepping in again.

The sextuplets, born on 6-7 January, each weighed less than 1kg (2.2 pounds) at birth. Two of the babies have died and doctors are working to treat the remaining four.

'Fair hearing'

According to court papers filed by the couple, social workers assumed legal control of three of the babies at the weekend in order to give them blood transfusions.

Custody has now been returned to the parents, although the babies remain in the Vancouver hospital, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

The couple are challenging the intervention, saying that officials did not give them a chance to state their case.

"The Supreme Court of Canada said the government has an obligation to give parents a fair hearing," the parents' lawyer, Shane Brady, said.

"The government did not give... the parents a fair hearing."

The province's Minister of Children and Family Development, Tom Christiansen, did not comment on the specific case, but said that officials had a duty to protect children.

"The obligation is to ensure that a child in need of protection - that the ministry steps in and ensures that those children get the treatment they require," he said.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe the Bible forbids blood transfusions and that undergoing one is a sin.

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