Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, is the site of another life-and-death struggle between a family and an anti-Life hospital bureaucracy. Nineteen-month-old Alfie Evans suffers from an undiagnosed neurological condition. His parents, Thomas Evans and Kate James, want to move him to a hospital in Italy to pursue possible diagnosis and treatment. Doctors at Alder Hey, however, argue that removing Alfie from a ventilator, ending his life, is in his best interest. The hospital asked the High Court to intervene, terminating parental rights and giving the hospital the power to end Alfie’s life support against his family’s wishes.
The unfolding case of Alfie Evans is eerily reminiscent of the recent case of Charlie Gard. In a prolonged legal battle that gained international attention, Charlie’s parents fought action by the hospital that would prevent them from pursuing treatment for their son’s mitochondrial disorder. Tragically, by the time the court examined the potential efficacy of treatment Charlie’s condition had deteriorated too greatly to undergo the experimental treatment.
At the time, Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, warned that other vulnerable patients were at risk from the same kind of pervasive, anti-Life power of hospital bureaucracy. Yates told the court, “It’s not too late for others. We owe it to him to not let his life be in vain.” As Alfie’s family fights for his life, there are many clear parallels to Charlie’s case. As in Charlie’s ordeal, Alfie’s parents want to move him to a hospital that will pursue treatment, but are facing forced medical imprisonment by the British hospital tasked with his care who instead want to remove treatment and end his life. Evans and James raised money through an online fundraiser to transport Alfie to Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome. According to Alfie’s Army Facebook group, Alfie has been continuously hospitalized since December 2016 suffering from chronic seizures and receiving breathing support. The family says Alder Hey has “given up on” Alfie, however they have received an outpouring of public support in their bid to move their ailing son for treatment.
The reason for the disturbing cases of Charlie and Alfie, ailing young children whose parents had to fight for their Right to Life, is the anti-Life laws in Britain. Current law allows hospitals to make decisions of life and death based on subjective “quality of life” assessments that ignore the dignity of each human life. Despite a strong Pro-Life record on many Life issues, Texas also has laws that threaten vulnerable hospital patients and undermine families’ right to make life-affirming decisions for ailing family members. The 2015 case of Texan Chris Dunn highlights the dangerous overreach granted to hospitals by the anti-Life Texas 10-Day Law.
Reports indicate that Alfie’s case will not be decided until February. In the meantime, public support for his family continues to grow, bringing attention to the pressing need to reform unjust laws that threaten the Right to Life of vulnerable hospital patients.