Alfie Evans – parents and the state

The tragic case of Alfie Evans once again illustrates the need for Parliament to consider giving parents more say over their children’s medical care. I know these are very difficult matters and we don’t see the full picture from the outside, but it does seem to me that there are serious issues, which must be addressed.

There is increasing presumption that the “state” knows better than parents and has the right to intervene. Of course, in cases of unarguable abuse this is absolutely justified. But what about when “professionals” go behind the back of parents, or deliberately mislead them, to give advice and treatments regarding controversial matters, like gender identity or birth control? This clearly diminishes trust between families and the state with all the disastrous consequences that ensue. These are highly debatable and contentious issues on which professionals should at most be neutral, allowing parents as much freedom as possible to shape their children’s development (providing they do not incite hatred of others). Of course, when age 16 or 18 is reached, then young people can enjoy more freedom to make life-changing decisions, but the state should not (for example) be facilitating a 14-year-old girl taking a male name. I often wonder how much LGBT groups are actively seeking to add to their numbers, sowing seeds of doubt and persuading people that they are trapped in the wrong bodies or prefer the same sex. Why, for example, are “drag queens” being parachuted into primary schools for story time?

Ideally, the state exists to defend the families and individuals against oppression, maximising freedoms, not trying to define a narrow version of what is right or wrong.

How absurd that in the tragic case of Alfie Evans, Alder Hays hospital is actively working against treatment and care options being offered by Italy. They want and expect him to die anyway, so why are they concerned if this happens in a foreign hospital, especially after discovering that he was capable of breathing unassisted much longer than they expected. Do they fear he might recover and prove them wrong? This is an act of real compassion from Italy, accorded with the desires of the parents and our refusal to allow the transfer makes Britain seem cold and heartless (just at the same point as our treatment of the “Windrush Generation” proves that point).

Surely, we must remember the case of Ashya King, who saw her parents hunted across Europe after they decided to remove him from hospital and take him to the Czech Republic for proton beam therapy. Today, Ashya is in remission and doing well.

We need to realise the sacrifices of parents. They have given birth to this child, carried in the womb for nine months, nursed over many long nights, love and fought for their child. They are closest to the little defenceless human being who is battling for their life. Most British mums and dads might decide to withdraw treatment in situations like Alfie’s but there will be some, through sincere beliefs and values, who will want to do everything possible and have the capacity to continue that struggle for survival. Alfie’s was an undiagnosed, “mystery” condition – who is to say that two or three years down the line, we do not learn more and discover that he could have been treated, or a miracle happens and he suddenly recovers? Who are the doctors to deem Alfie’s life as worthless?

Given the circumstances of the transfer offered to Italy and the fact that the British taxpayer would not even be paying for this further treatment/care, I simply cannot see why this has been allowed to happen. I would support the initiative by MEP Steve Woolfe and “Parliament Street” to change the country’s law to help parents maintain control over the medical care of their children, within suitable safeguards.

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