What if the government forcibly stopped parents from going to the ends of the earth to help their children?
Instead, what if the government pursued the death of children?
Here is an example of what happens when the government decides to play doctor and God:
Alfie Evans is a British 23-month-old who was hospitalized for seizures at the age of one. Doctors believed the toddler had a degenerative neurological condition, however, he was not diagnosed. He was in a semi-vegetative state and not able to breathe on his own.
Eventually, the hospital staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital disagreed with the boy’s parents over his treatment. The hospital appealed to the High Court to have their parental rights removed. The hospital wanted to take the Evan’s child off the ventilator. A long and dramatic legal battle ensued.
The parents made appeals to the British and the European Court of Human Rights. If the hospital refused to continue life support for the child, the parents should be allowed to take their son to Italy. The Vatican hospital had agreed to treat the toddler.
Judges in the United Kingdom agreed the boy should be taken off the ventilator and refused to allow his family to pursue care for the child abroad.
The child’s father Thomas Evans tried all he could. He met with Pope Francis and pleaded for help. He wrote to the archbishop of Liverpool asking for mercy and permission to take his son to the Vatican hospital.
We don’t want to force ourselves upon [the Pope], and we don’t want therapeutic obstinacy, but we would at least like his disease to be diagnosed and we would like him to receive the best possible treatment.
In response to his pleas, Alfie was granted citizenship in Italy and offered travel, however, he was not permitted to leave the United Kingdom.
The boy was taken off the ventilator on April 23, 2018. He continued to breathe on his own. This gave his parents hope. They appealed to an emergency High Court for permission to take their son to Italy. Their appeal was rejected.
The instances of government overreach into the area of parental rights and the relationship between doctors and patients sets a sickening precedent for the government to control who lives and dies.
Even though the expectations for Alfie’s recovery were low, the court is not authorized or capable of making intimate healthcare decisions for patients, particularly when they come with life-or-death consequences.
The state also does not have the right to replace parents as primary caregivers.
If the state is permitted to decide whose lives are worthy of living, the government will treat the most vulnerable as burdens on society. These burdens are ultimately disposable then, to the government. This was indicated in Evans’ letter to the archbishop:
[Alfie’s case] might set a further precedent like in Charlie Gard’s case in order to prevent parents from taking care of their sick children, considered a burden by the state because they are ill and ‘therefore’ useless, unproductive, and expensive.
In 2017, a British judge decided that infant Charlie Gard’s life was not worth living.
According to the Daily Signal: “When the government gets to be the arbiter of life and death, those who are sick, aged, or disabled are liable to be done away with as unnecessary expenditures.” This is a horrifying trend.
Under such a government, all are vulnerable. What other circumstances will arise that the state will determine people are not fit enough to live? Could the government prevent individuals or families from seeking a second opinion or alternative treatment? Could they order doctors to remove life support? Then, perhaps the government would have the power to order physicians to induce death?
It is severe government overreach to play doctor or God for the people. Courts cannot be competent enough to make healthcare decisions, nor replace the parents to care for their children.
This is a blatant abuse of power and must be met with vehement opposition at every turn. Alfie’s family will continue to fight until no other family has to experience what they have gone through.
Evans reported that at 2:30 a.m., on April 28, 2018, Alfie passed away. He posted on Facebook, “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings… absolutely heartbroken.”
The Pope tweeted: “I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father received him in his tender embrace.”
Supporters of the toddler’s family, Alfie’s army, released balloons in the park in honor of the child.
Alfie had been in a semi-vegetative state for a year. The family lost all legal attempts to be able to find alternate treatment in Italy.
The staff at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, expressed their sympathies, “All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom, and his whole family and our thoughts are with them. This has been a devastating journey for them.”
The archbishop of Liverpool, Malcom McMahon, stated, “All who have been touched by the story of this little boy’s heroic struggle for life will feel this loss deeply. Now it is time for us to give Tom and Kate space to grieve their son’s death and off our prayers for him and consolation for all.”
Alfie was born in May 2016. He was first admitted to the hospital in December. He was suffering from seizures. Physicians at Alder Hey Hospital said that further treatment would be futile and inhumane.
The toddler’s parents were critical of the medical staff and felt their son was being held prisoner. They were also concerned that the child was misdiagnosed.
The hospital administration was backed by the High Court, on February 20, 2018, after reviewing medical evidence that there was “no hope” for the child. In a four-month legal battle, the family’s appeals were denied.
By Jeanette Smith
The Daily Signal: UK Government Seeks to Play God in Denying Alfie Evans Life Support
BBC: Alfie Evans: Legal battle toddler dies
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Featured Image Courtesy of Greg Walters’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License