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Alfie Evans: Should the state get to decide when someone dies?

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By Jeff Borders

If you haven’t been paying attention to the Alfie Evans story, you should. This story is playing out in front of the world, like a sick Orwellian novel. Alfie’s case has drawn the attention of many influential people, from British Parliament members, to prominent commentators, to religious leaders like the Pope.

For several months now, Alfie Evans has been at the center of a life support battle raging between his parents, health officials, and the British justice system. Now I will admit I’m no expert on the British legal system. Frankly it’s hard to take anyone serious who is wearing a powdered wig. But I do know a thing or two about parenting, and definitely a lot more about the healthcare system. And regardless of whether you fall on the full government control end of the spectrum, or the maximum parental control end, there is a human being, an innocent baby boy, at the center of this, and that is something we all can understand and have empathy for.

For over a year, 23-month-old Alfie Evans has been living in a coma, and his parents have been living in a nightmare. In December of 2016, after suffering from seizure like activity at home, a comatose Alfie was rushed to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool where he was placed on life-support. But no one really knows caused Alfie to slip into his semi-vegetative state. Alfie’s diagnosis is a mystery to the doctors of Alder Hey, citing only that he has an unknown degenerative neurologic disorder, which they say is not conducive to life. The parents, and I can’t blame them, wanted to seek a second opinion. Several offers were made, including an offer to fly the child to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome for treatment, but the Alder Hey wouldn’t budge. There answer: No transfer. Then in December of 2017, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital applied to terminate Alfie’s life support after denying repeated appeals to have the young boy transferred to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome. Their justification? Alfie will not live because of his unknown condition and must be allowed to die with dignity.

On Feb. 20 the High Court case began, what followed was a series of legal battles, not even John Grisham could dream up. After failing to win their legal battles in lower courts, Alfie’s parents attempted to take their case to the British Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court justices refused to hear the case. And on March 28, in another desperate bid, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg also declined to look at the decision of the British court.

Alfie’s parent’s determination to see their son live would not be stopped. They took the case to the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights a second time, but again, both refused to hear the case.

On April 23, after exhausting their legal options, Italy granted Alfie citizenship in a last ditch effort to have the boy transferred for care in Rome. Justice Hayden of the high court dismissed the effort however and granted the go-ahead Alder Hey, to turn off Alfie’s life support.

On Monday, April 23, at 9:17 p.m., Alfie’s parents were forced to watch as the young boy’s life support machines are turned off.

The hospital and court system of England say that they are allowing Alfie to die with dignity by removing his life support. There’s one slight problem. As of me writing this, at 6:33 p.m on Friday, April 27, Alfie was still alive. In what can be seen only as a miracle, and despite not being given food or water, little Alfie was hanging on for dear life. I don’t see dignity anywhere in that equation. However, Alfied died early this morning.

If you’re thinking this whole situation is a little strange, be assured, this isn’t the first time the British healthcare system and courts have come under scrutiny for not allowing a family to take their child abroad for care elsewhere, even when an offer has been made by a foreign country or hospital. Just do a Google search for Charlie Gard. Or if you want to get closer to home, look up Justina Pelletier of Boston or check out the story of Chris Dunn of Houston.

This should raise the hairs on the necks of all people.

What happened to the sanctity of human life? Is it the right of the State to decide when someone’s life is no longer worth living? What about parental rights to seek the best treatment for their child? In Alfie’s, as well as Charlie Gard’s case, there is and were hospitals and doctors willing to try and treat the children and their illnesses. But apparently that isn’t good enough for the British Courts. Which makes me question, what do they have to lose?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say my heart is breaking for this family right now. All I can think about is; what if that was my child? The mental anguish and torture this poor family has had to endure is beyond anything I can comprehend. Regardless of whether we agree on State vs. Individual rights, I would ask you to look past that, and say a prayer for Alfie’s his family. There is a family at the center of this that could probably use a little extra strength and peace in their hearts tonight.

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Jeff Borders
Jeff Borders
Jeff Borders was born in Spokane, Washington and has lived there since. He is a self published author, focusing in science fiction and fantasy, but he enjoyes writing in all its forms. By trade he is a Respiratory Therapist, but he is also active in his community as a volunteer firefighter, as well as being active in his church. He holds many additional teaching certifications for his fields of employment and he enjoys educating others. Jeff married his wife Crystyne in 2003, and together they have four, very fun and energetic children. His website is www.jeffbordersbooks.com

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