R. I. P. Alfie Evans

Alfie Evans, the 23 month old little boy who British doctors diagnosed with a terminal degenerative brain condition, has died.

The case drew a great deal of attention, much like the similar case of Charlie Gard, who died last year in a British hospital after his parents lost their court battle to have his care continued or have him moved to another hospital. You can read what I wrote about Charlie’s case, and the ominous impact on parental rights, here.

Similar to Charlie, Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Thomas Evans fought the hospital’s attempt to remove him from life support. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool argued that Alfie was in a semi-vegetative state and that further treatment would be to no purpose. After the courts ruled that the hospital could remove Alfie’s life support, the parents wanted to move him to another hospital. In what is likely an unprecedented move, the Italian government took particular interest in Alfie’s case, granting him Italian citizenship and arranging for his transfer to Italy. Bambino Gesu, the Vatican’s own hospital, offered care for Alfie.

The British courts would have none of it, however. The British Court of Appeal, the same court that ruled that Alfie could be removed from life support, also forbade Alfie’s parents from seeking care elsewhere.

Think about that. The government of one of the leading countries in the free world ruled that a child’s mother and father were prohibited from removing their child from one hospital and transferring him to another, even though that other hospital had arranged for the child’s transfer and offered to provide care. One television news program reported that there were actually thirty police stationed on guard at Alder Hey to prevent Alfie’s being removed.

Certainly the courts of a country ought to step in to protect a child from harm when there is evidence that parents have caused or intend to cause harm to their child. But, it is a violation of parent’s legitimate natural rights over their children for the state to remove a child’s parents from the care of their child when there is no evidence on the part of the parents that they have harmed or intend to harm their child. No one is arguing that Alfie’s parents have harmed him or want to harm him. They simply want to move him to another hospital. They have the resources to do it, and they have another hospital that is willing to care for him. There are no grounds remaining on which the British government can legitimately hold on to this child against the natural rights of his parents. That they do so can only mean that Britain is claiming that their state has ultimate authority over the children of Great Britain, even over against parents with no history or intent of abuse or neglect. This is too much for any state to claim, much less one that purports to be a standard of freedom in the developed world.

On Saturday morning, Pope Francis tweeted, “I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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