Here we go again: the parents of Alfie Evans, an 18-month-old British child with a mysterious brain ailment, are being blocked by a hospital from taking their baby to an Italian hospital that thinks it might be able to help. The British doctors want to turn off Alfie’s life support instead. If this sounds just like the Charlie Gard case, it is in many respects, right down to the comatose child suffering from a related condition. It’s renewing the debate over who should be allowed to make decisions regarding whether a child receives care or is allowed to die: the parents or the doctors (and by extension, the government, since the involvement of the National Health Service brings in questions about whether budget concerns are influencing medical decisions.)
Personally, I hope it renews that debate, although I’m outraged that there was ever any debate to begin with, and that after the Charlie Gard case, that it wasn’t settled once and for all that the parents are in charge. They’ve even raised the money to take the child to Italy. What could possibly justify blocking them from trying, especially if there is even a slim hope and delay reduces the odds? The hospital claims that it’s “in the child’s best interests” to let him die. I’m glad they’re not looking out for my best interests.
By the way, if you think the doctors should be allowed to make the decision because of their infallible medical expertise, Alfie’s father notes that when he was first taken to the hospital, the doctors claimed he had only a couple of hours to live. That was last New Year’s Eve.