Alfie Evans and the experts

Such a system is custom-built for the coming world of post-familialism, the world bequeathed to us by sexual individualism and thinning family trees. Just as more and more children are growing up without the active fathers who fought for Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans or the extended kinship network that saved Jahi McMath, more and more people will face old age without sons and daughters to care for them or to challenge the medical-judicial complex’s will.

It is the tragedy of our future that for many people there will be no exit from that complex, no alternative means of receiving care. But it is the task of our present to ensure that where the family still has the capacity to choose for an aging parent or a dying child, the family rather than the system gets to make the choice.

Yes, that choice may be wrong; it may have its own dark or foolish motivations. But those are risks a humane society has to take, so that in our weakest moments we can hope to be surrounded not just by knowledge or power, but by love.