As Alfie Evans valiantly struggles to stay alive, his legal hopes of traveling outside of the UK for treatment got an unexpected boost. After what appeared to be a final ruling from the court yesterday that denied Evans’ parents the opportunity to use the air ambulance standing by to carry the child to Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital at the Vatican, the Evans’ attorneys got contacted by a judge explaining that they could launch another appeal. The case will get heard again this afternoon:
Sir Andrew McFarlane, will head a panel of three Court of Appeal judges due to hear arguments about the 23-month-old at a hearing in London on Wednesday afternoon.
A spokeswoman for the Christian Legal Centre said the judge would be asked to allow medical experts in Italy to examine Alfie.
Alfie’s parents have already lost two rounds of fights, in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.
The chances of a reversal is likely somewhere between slim and none, given the precedents in British courts, but it does at least represent another opportunity for common sense to prevail. The Evanses are not arguing for more treatment from the British medical system; all they want is to have the opportunity to seek treatment elsewhere. That costs the UK nothing at all while preserving the parents as the primary authority for the child. Absent evidence of abuse or neglect, the parents should have priority on deciding what is best for their child, especially when the government-run health care system is attempting to impose a regime of fatal neglect onto their child.
It’s somewhat mystifying as to why the courts have ruled against the Evanses. Doctors have no specific diagnosis, and their prognosis — that Alfie couldn’t live off the ventilator — has already been proven wrong. Eventually he’ll die without medical care, but that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Some doctors in the UK have also raised these same questions. The chair of the Medical Ethics Alliance has dozens of doctors co-signing a letter demanding an end to “medical tyranny,” and pointing out that viable alternatives still exist for Alfie:
“The parents are being tortured as they watch the hospital take actions expected to lead to his death,” said the April 24 letter, which was co-signed by nearly 60 others, including a number of prominent Catholic doctors.
“Despite a viable alternative being available (namely transfer by air ambulance for further assessment to a specialist hospital in Rome), the hospital and doctors responsible for his care insist that he remains under their care and on a pathway toward death,” the letter said.
“While he now has some oxygen and some fluid, this has taken huge effort to obtain for him,” it said.
The letter continued: “Actions such as these have now brought the Alder Hey (Children’s) Hospital to worldwide attention and, by extension, bring our whole profession into disrepute.”
“Medical tyranny must stop,” it said. “Poor Alfie must not be killed in this way,” they said, demanding his safe passage to Rome.
World leaders have begun questioning the logic here, too. Pope Francis put out an appeal for British courts to let Alfie leave, and Polish president Andrzej Duda declared this morning that “Alfie must be saved!”
Alfie Evans must be saved! His brave little body has proved again that the miracle of life can be stronger than death. Perhaps all that's needed is some good will on the part of decision makers. Alfie, we pray for you and your recovery!
— Andrzej Duda (@AndrzejDuda) April 25, 2018
Good will seems in short supply. For some reason, British courts have more interest in protecting doctors’ reputations than allowing parents to choose to find medical treatment outside the country for their sick children. If the appeals court chooses otherwise, it would be a very large — and very welcome — surprise.