The Tragedy of Alfie Evans: A Government's Death Sentence on a Disabled Child


Last weekend, a bitter legal battle came to a close when Alfie Evans, a two-year old child on life support, passed away. His parents attempted multiple appeals after Alder Hey Hospital petitioned a court to permit taking Alfie off of the life-support ventilator that was helping him breathe. Sadly, multiple levels of courts, including the European Court of Human Rights, rejected their appeals, and five days after being taken off the ventilator, Alfie died.

The issue caused outrage across the globe, especially since other nations offered to take up care of Alfie. The Italian government even granted Alfie citizenship hoping that the United Kingdom would release him and allow the Italians to take over care at no cost to UK taxpayers.

But the UK refused, and Alfie died shortly thereafter. This entire situation was tyrannical in Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen's assessment; the British government did nothing more than condemning a disabled child to death.

That is precisely what the British High Court of Justice did in the case of Alfie Evans, a little boy who suffered from a rapidly progressive terminal brain disease. Doctors at London’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital concluded that further treatment was futile and asked the court — over his parents’ objections — to order the removal of his ventilator. Alfie’s parents pleaded for permission to transfer him to Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome, where doctors had agreed to take over his treatment at no cost. Pope Francis had arranged free medical transport, and the Italian government had granted Alfie citizenship to facilitate his transfer. A hospital in Munich had also offered to relieve British doctors of the burden of caring for Alfie.

In spite of the offers to take over Alfie's care, the UK refused to let him go, and even set up police officers outside the hospital to make sure that his parents would not try to take him while the death sentence was carried out.

This is, quite simply, tyrannical. It is one thing for a judge to decide that British taxpayers should not have to bear the cost of what doctors in its national health service have concluded is futile treatment. Under a single-payer system, resources are limited and care is rationed (which is why we don’t want socialized medicine here in America). But where does a British court get the right to deny the child life-extending treatment abroad when someone else is willing to pay for it? Who gave the British state the right to determine what kind of life is worth living and for how long?

Thiessen stated that this tragedy is yet another example of the culture of death that is spreading across Europe. Along with Alfie, another young child Charlie Gard was offered outside medical care, yet the British government held him hostage while the courts denied appeals to transfer custody back to his parents. Gard died in July, 2017.

Those cases, along with Iceland's claim that the country has "eliminated" Down syndrome by aborting children who are diagnosed with the disorder show how the culture of death is taking over Europe.

German physician Nikolaus Haas told the court ,“Because of our history in Germany, we’ve learned that there are some things you just don’t do with severely handicapped children. A society must be prepared to look after these severely handicapped children and not decide that life support has to be withdrawn against the will of the parents.” But Justice Hayden declared this statement “inflammatory.”

Thiessen notes that the comparison is on point, though. London survived the Nazi bltiz in World War II, and fought off a regime that practiced eugenics, especially against the handicapped. Britain now has such a system, imposed by its own courts.

What do you think of Thiessen's assessment? How can we protect the right to life here in the United States? Share your thoughts with us.