Public outrage continues against Britains’ socialist health care system after the hospital’s controversial decision to withdraw 23-month-old baby Alfie Evans’ life support. A series of court rulings sided with doctors who said continuing Alfie’s treatment was not in Alfie’s best interests. Alfie’s distraught and heartbroken parents disagreed and continued to fight for their baby’s life. This medical drama drew world-wide attention which has continued even after the announcement of Alfie’s death on Saturday morning, April 28, 2018.
Alfie was born to Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, in May of 2016. In his first year of life Alfie experienced a series of seizures, whereupon he was admitted to a Liverpool hospital. Alfie remained there until his death. Alfie’s doctors diagnosed his illness as an incurable degenerative brain condition, but his precise condition could never be fully determined. Nevertheless, the diagnosis became the center of a legal battle over Alfie’s treatment. Rejecting the pronouncement of medics that further treatment was futile and that Alfie should be permitted to die, Alfie’s parents sought other sources for advice and treatment and fortunately discovered a hospital in Italy that offered hope and was willing to accept their baby for treatment.
As determined by British law, courts often intervene when parents and doctors disagree over the treatment of a child. In Baby Alfie’s case the British court did superseded parental rights in favor of the hospital, thus robbing Alfie’s parents of their last hope to save their son’s life.
The British Court’s decision likely was due to the hospital’s claim that Alfie would inevitably die, possibly within minutes after being taken off life support. However, the fact is Alfie defied expectations and instead lived 5 additional days, without food or water. This certainly appeared to defy the hospital’s testimony of his vulnerability. Alfie’s will to live was a further indication to his parents that their baby’s life might have been saved if given a chance for additional medical help in Italy.
The law that enabled the court to strip Alfie from the care of of his parents and make him the ward of the 1989 Children Act. Originally this legislation was in response to dozens of children being abused, but it has since been interpreted to cover medical care cases.
Medical ethics are at play
Alfie’s sad death brought strong world-wide reactions.
Although the Alfie Evans case was ultimately about whether the State or the parent can decide what is best for a child, it also brought to the forefront a question about medical ethics and whether parents should be given more consideration when the issue is a life or death decision for their child.
For those of us who are pro-life, human life is sacred. It’s a gift from God and not a commodity. If God is rejected in any society, a vacuum will result which will be filled with relativism. Moral and ethical issues are therefore of importance in the Baby Alfie case. Consider the following questions:
- Is human life less sacred if the person is disabled?
- Should an individual life be protected by the government with good public policy?
- Are parental rights more important than that of the state?
- Should the state care for its most vulnerable or are should the economical burden be the deciding factor?
- Is a single payer insurance (National healthcare) in the best interests of a country, even if it takes away the rights of individuals regarding life and death medical decisions?
As Newt Gingrich wrote in his article, The Culture of Death and Growing Totalitarianism (Originally published at Fox News):
“This is a direct assault on the core premise of the Declaration of Independence. We Americans asserted that we “are endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In the American Revolution, in our fight against the British crown, we asserted that rights come from God not from government.
However, those who choose a secular, liberal culture reject the concept of God that our forefathers found profoundly important and instead assert our rights come from a rational contract enforced by government. This secular concept should not void the original American model, which asserted our God-given rights were a shield against the power of a potentially tyrannical government. Our wise forefathers knew the history of other once great, prosperous nations that abandoned God for a secular order, with exceedingly disastrous results. This is not what Americans want to happen to our amazing country
Britain is giving us a vivid, tragic sense of how dangerous and heartless government tyranny can be once God is rejected and there is nothing between us and the government.”
On April 27, 2018 the nephew of a renowned German Catholic philosopher and fierce opponent of Hitler, Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), wrote an open letter to the bishops of England and Wales denouncing their response to Alfie Evans as an “abject failure.”
In a letter dated April 27, Jean Pierre Casey criticized the UK bishops for praising Alder Hey Hospital’s “integrity and for completely failing” to uphold Catholic teaching on life, the family, and God-given parental rights.” Even the Pope took a few minutes to offer his support to the boy’s family, saying”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.”
It is notable that the hospital, Alder Hay, had a well-documented history of being the scene of abusive medical practices long before it admitted young Alfie Evans into what became his eventual death chamber. Pro-life group “Live Action” informed the public in a social media post on Friday, April 27, that Alder Hey was at the center of a British National Health Service scandal in the 1990s that involved hospitals throughout the nation’s socialized medicine network, as they harvested and storied the organs of deceased children without the knowledge of the children’s parents.
Issue of trust, or lack of trust, in UK’s National Health Service
Worth reading in its entirety is a recent essay by Joseph A. Morris of Morris & De La Rosa in Chicago, titled The Outrageous Case of Alfie Evans,published at the Illinois Family Institute. Morris referred to the Alfie case “as a dark hour for British justice where Parliament and the British judiciary stand indicted by their own actions and inactions of cruelty, intellectual dishonesty, and the high crime of hostility to life and liberty.”
In reflecting on the bureaucracy in question: “It is not some corporate chain of megahospitals; nor is it the grasping, heartless insurance company of Bernie Sanders’s nightmares. It is Britain’s vaunted National Health System, the supposed socialist paradise.”
Morris explained the British judiciary with this statement: “It now sees its highest duty to be, not the vindication of individual liberty but the enforcement of the supreme authority of the administrative state. I am dismayed by what I see, and gobsmacked that I did not see it coming.”
The question at stake in the Alfie Evans story isn’t just whether we should let the state decide, but do we trust the state at all?
When Alfie’s doctors gave up on him, his parents wanted to take the boy to Italy where doctors offered a possible treatment for his degenerative neurological condition. Hope for their precious child. This would not have cost the British any money or bother. Italy readily agreed to provide all that was necessary, from ambulances to the plane to provide an easy transition for Alfie. This generous offer was rebuffed by Alder Hey Hospital, without credible reasons for the denial. Shocked people all over the World who were aware and rooting for little Alfie, were shocked at the refusal that denied this final opportunity and instead ordained that Alfie must die. Even well-meaning bureaucrats can’t place the same value on a young boy’s life as his parents.
Push by Left for Socialized medicine
After his death, the Daily Signal decided to get the comments of the 15 Democratic senators currently co-sponsoring the “Medicare for All Act of 2017 (spearheaded by Democratic Bernie Sanders-I-VT.) What they got in return was silence, when asked what they thought of the Alfie Evans case and how a similar case should be handled in the United States. spearheaded by Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Is this what we want for America, that parents be rendered helpless before the gods of social medicine? Perhaps Alfie Evans’ parents were clinging to false hope that a medical cure would help their child, but isn’t this their decision to make, not a doctor’s, or a hospital’s, or a national health service, especially considering it was not costing the Brits for this last chance to save their son? It seems odd, causing observers to wonder if the hospital and government’s main concern might be that Italy might have saved, or at least improved, the health of this child.
The highest cost for a socialized medical system is that it may one day end your life before needed. It is a system that ignores God and allows the state to play God, routinely deciding which lives they will fight to save and those they will not. While little Alfie’s problem was rare, this socialized medical system is equally unsympathetic regarding the elderly, who if over a certain age are denied life-saving expensive procedures.
Be assured, socializing America’s health care would also inevitably lead to state officials rationing care, as hospitals would be responsible to use their best judgment as to how to allocate scarce public resources. May the United States never reach that point!
[Originally Published at Illinois Review]