Alfie Evans is a child who, following a seizure in 2016, has been on life support at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool due to an undiagnosed degenerative illness. In recent months the doctors treating Alfie, believing his condition incurable, wanted to bring his life to an end. A decision which brought them into sharp conflict with his parents who want him to be given every chance, not least as he is not in pain and still partially responsive. The photograph above was taken yesterday.
When Alfie’s parents decided to move their son to a Catholic hospital in Rome (pro-life rather than part of a culture of death) the conflict between State and family took a sinister turn. Using a law that enables the State to overthrow parental rights when deemed “in the best interests of a child”- police were sent to stop the family leaving hospital with Alfie. A seemingly callous decision that scandalised people throughout the world. Since then the authorities have remained bullish in maintaining their stance that Alfie should not be moved to another hospital. What gives them that right?
The saga took a dramatic twist last night when the Italian government, at the Pope’s behest, granted Alfie citizenship to enable him to be transferred to the Vatican hospital against the wish of the State. Pope Francis tweeted support asking that the needs of parents be considered and met. Instead, at 9pm, a judge ruled that Alfie’s breathing tube be removed and medical assistance withdrawn. His death would have been instantaneous had the hospital been granted its initial preference to use a chemical cosh to euthanise. Fortunately they lost that bid at an earlier hearing and so Alfie was left with his parents overnight to let nature take its course.
Since then a minor miracle has occurred. As of this morning, against all odds and the assurances of the medics, Alfie continues to breathe unaided. He is being held skin to skin by his mother and father, who have proved heroic in fighting his cause. The family hope to launch a fresh appeal when the courts re-open enabling his transfer to go ahead. They ask for the prayers of the Catholic community.
It is important to recognise that ethical situations like these are notoriously tricky. Our doctors and nurses work hard to help people and have to make lots of very difficult decisions. They have to work to economic constraints whilst also striving to bring comfort and care to the sick. Nevertheless the following questions gnaw at me
- What is the justification here for the family being sidelined by the State? When did our children become their possession? This blog has long warned that the break down of the family and rise of Big State is a dire threat to personal liberty and the home. This proves that point.
- How can it be argued that death is ‘in the best interest’ of Alfie given the he remains comfortable and alive when given life support? How can any long term decisions be made given that his illness is undiagnosed?
- What reason is there for not enabling the transfer to Rome? The cost is being met by others? I do wonder if the decision to end his life was partially economic and the authorities are uneasy about the implications should Alfie do well.