The tragic news out of the U.K. regarding little Alfie Evans is more than just tragic. It’s chilling.
A child will be killed, perhaps in a few hours, perhaps today, or tomorrow. But make no mistake, he’s not actively dying and his parents want to try to save his life, but once again the courts and the hospital have determined that he must die.
Once again, the wishes of the parents are being disregarded and their rights as parents trampled. And a child is going to be killed.
Always Death, Never a Chance
Alfie’s parents have every right to try and seek other treatment for their son. There are other doctors and other hospitals willing to care for Alfie. But the hospital and the courts in the U.K. refuse to allow that possibility.
They will not allow Alfie to be cared for by anyone else, or to receive treatment other than what they have already given. They will not allow his parents to take him out of their hospital.
They refuse to allow any other options. They have decreed he must die, and die on their terms, on their schedule. They have made themselves God.
Adding to an already terrible burden for parents, they now have to consider whether the people caring for their sick child will turn on them.
The scales are not tipped in favor of life. Always death. Terri Schaivo. Charlie Gard. Now Alfie Evans. In every case, family members and other medical professionals were able and willing to provide care, yet each time, that other care was forbidden by the courts.
Who Has the Real Authority?
The big question is, does the State “own” your child?
If your child becomes very sick — strangely, mysteriously sick — and suddenly going home is no longer an option: are children simply captives to the hospital treating them? Do parents by default surrender all rights of custody and decision-making regarding their child to the hospital or a panel of judges?
The answer seems to be yes, and that ought to terrify every parent in the civilized world.
Alfie Evans will soon die not because his disease finally overpowered him, but because judges and doctors overpowered his parents and decreed that Alfie must die according to their terms.
To add unbearable fear to an already terrible burden for parents, now they have to stop and consider whether the people caring for their sick child will turn on them, using unjustified legal bullying to deny them the right to decide what is best for their child. Parents have to wonder whether they might lose custody of their child to a hospital simply for wanting a second opinion, or a different treatment. Will they be shut out of their child’s care?
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Ask the Pelletier family. Justina Pelletier was diagnosed by physicians at Tufts Hospital with mitochondrial disease and was receiving treatment. Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital decided her problems were entirely psychological and committed Justina to a locked psychiatric ward, denying her parents even the right to see her.Thus began a horrific custody battle between the hospital and her parents over who had the authority to decide what treatment Justina would receive. She walked into Boston Children’s under her own steam. After 16 months in their psych ward, she finally left in a wheelchair, her health having dramatically declined.
So, if you agree with Doctor or Hospital “A” about your child’s diagnosis and treatment, but Doctor or Hospital “B” disagrees, does Hospital “B” have the power to take your child away and prevent the treatment you believe your child needs? Apparently so.
Alfie Evans will likely soon die not because his disease finally overpowered him, but because judges and doctors overpowered his parents and decreed that Alfie must die according to their terms.
It is a depraved and frightening culture that is so invested in death, so determined to refuse hope, and so power-greedy that parents are helpless to parent their own child.
Jennifer Hartline is a Senior Contributor to The Stream. She is a proud Army wife and mother of four children. She writes passionately on the issues of Life, faith, family and culture, and has been published extensively at Catholic Online and at Catholic Stand. She is currently pursuing a degree in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She runs on dark chocolate and peppermint mochas.