In a move that has baffled people around the world, Britain is engaged in a fight with Tom Evans and Kate James to deny life support to their hospitalized 23-month-old son, Alfie – condemning him to death, even though the toddler’s parents want desperately to keep him alive.
Two days ago, Pope Francis stepped in and offered Alfie care in Italy. The Italian government went as far as granting citizenship to Alfie in an attempt to have him immediately transferred to Italy.
But the British hospital where Alife is staying refused to allow the transfer and the parents sought judgement from the Family Division of the High Court in Manchester. A judge ruled Tuesday that the toddler, who was taken off life support on Monday, is too ill to travel to Vatican City in Rome for treatment.
Alfie’s parents appealed that ruling to Britain’s Court of Appeal, but on Wednesday three judges on that that court rejected the parent’s request to overturn the lower court ruling denying the transfer of Alfie.
The abject insanity of it all – the argument that the toddler may die if he travels so best to kill him in Britain – is what has turned the case of Alfie Evans into a worldwide story.
One of the key facts about Alfie is that no one knows what is ailing him. This alone should be a reason to keep him alive. His lack of definitive diagnosis should mean that, at minimum, he be kept alive until doctors can figure it out.
The confidence with which doctors are proclaiming Alfie has no chance to improve might make sense if they knew what was wrong with him in the first place. That they don’t, and are letting him die anyway, is damning.
The hospital, and those who support ending all treatment for Alfie, say that his quality of life is poor and therefore he should be allowed to die ostensibly “with dignity.” But the idea that those who have a less-than-ideal quality of life should be killed is barbaric.
We treat life as something we can design and perfect. Babies with Down syndrome are being aborted out of existence because we’ve decided that the only high quality of life is the kind that we ourselves enjoy.
The desire to rid ourselves of imperfect humans cheapens life. Perhaps Alfie Evans will never have what most people would consider a normal life. But that’s irrelevant to whether he should be killed.
A “normal” life is often imperfect. If they refuse to keep Alfie alive now, will they soon come for your grandfather with the oxygen tank or your mother who has chronic pain? When someone else gets to decide who is living the ideal life, how many of us will die?
Alfie has defied the odds in remaining alive. Why not give him the chance to fight for his life, and for his parents to know they did everything they could to save their son? Britain needs to answer this question for Alfie and all the Alfies still to come.