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Anorak | The Fight To Own Alfie Evans

The Fight To Own Alfie Evans

by | 28th, April 2018

Alfie Evans ( May 9 2016 – April 28 2018) has died at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital, where he has been since his parents took him there in December 2016. He succombed to a degenerative neurological condition.

But… Who had control over Alfie Evans’ life? Who owned him? That was the news story. It wasn’t his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James. It wasn’t the Pope. And it certainly wasn’t Alfie Evans, not since a judge said his brain had “been wiped out… [it] is almost entirely water”.

On 1 February 2018 lawyers for the hospital told a court that it would be “unkind and inhumane” to continue treating Alfie. But – yep – his brain was “wiped out”, so what harm in trying – further treatment could cause him no physical pain? The law said Alfie was effectively no longer a person but also said that he was one and that he should be allowed to die. Confused?

On 20 February, Justice Hayden, who we just heard from, said there was no hope for Alfie and sided with the hospital. His treatment would stop. Alfie’s parents appealed. And lost. The Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights rejected their right to appeal.

Questions abounded. Who gets to decide the fate of children? What is in Alfie’s best interests? Is a judge best placed to empathise with Alfie? Medical opinion and parental rights were being weighed by the law. The legal assumption is not one of parental autonomy. That should change. The other legal assumption is not that life is always preferable.

 

 

The story went global. And it got nasty. On 6 April, Tom Evans voiced his intention to remove his son from the hospital. Police arrived to stop him. Hospital staff were abused by Alfie’s supporters. That was disgraceful. Pro-life Christians saw a cause to get stuck in to. American Evangelists tweeted furiously. The Pope wanted to help. Italy offered Alfie Italian citizenship, allowing him to be moved to the specialist private Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome.

But he never went. In the High Court, Hayden said that sending Alfie to Italy would be wrong and pointless. The Court of Appeal judges upheld his decision. The Supreme Court said “every legal issue in this case is governed by Alfie’s best interests… There is also no reason for further delay. The hospital must be free to do what has been determined to be in Alfie’s best interests. That is the law in this country.”

But surely once the medics had debated and decided that they could do not more for Alfie, he should have been free to leave their care. His release should have been a viable option for the parents. But the hospital kept hold of him, turning a patient into a virtual prisoner. They and the courts placed themselves above the child’s parents, the people who really did love and cherish him. The parents should have been allowed to decide what was best for their son. They did not ask the NHS to continue to fund their son’s care. They wanted to know that they had tried everything.

To be denied that is cruel.



Posted: 28th, April 2018 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink