Alfie Evans

Folks, have you heard about Alfie Evans? What a horrible story. For the first time in my life, I feel good about Pope Francis who is trying to help save Alfie.

Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018

I hope the British courts listen to the Pope and everybody else who is begging for Alfie’s life and let him go.

God. That it should come to this. Where are the disability rights advocates? This is monstrous.

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39 thoughts on “Alfie Evans”

  1. By this time my theory is that the British government just wants him to die already and is making an example out of this case to let parents know just who’s boss (of their children).

    Years ago I followed a blog (mostly terrible) which did have interesting stuff on how the British government was trying to put itself in the middle of every human relationship in the country (not how they put it but the inescapable conclusion).

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    1. I’d much rather they concentrated on providing basic police services and repairing the devastated higher ed. Instead, it’s one circus spectacle after another. But yes, a government of a fluid state will try to seem relevant and in charge at all costs.

      Fuckers.

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  2. The Vatican’s hospital (the mothership of all the Catholic hospitals around the world, where substandard, dishonest, undignified and unethical treatment is all that’s on offer) has no treatment to offer Alfie Evans. Right now, as the UK is moving against prolife fanatics and Ireland is about to vote on allowing terminations(with knock on implications for Northern Ireland) – the right wing Catholic activists who are lying to, and using Alfie Evans’ parents, in order to shout about ‘killing babies and parental rights’ for their own agenda, are a disgrace.

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    1. So what if the Vatican doesn’t have a better treatment? What’s the harm in letting the parents try? It won’t cost the UK anything. I honestly don’t understand.

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  3. And why is this a big story in America? Oo, maybe because of the opportunity to try and convince citizens that the UK’s NHS is such a very ‘bad’ thing?

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    1. @raddledoldrart:

      The issue for confused Americans who aren’t sure which side to take is this:

      Are the parents (and the Vatican) trying the do the right thing for this suffering child by prolonging its living agony in hopes of finding a new, successful treatment overseas that might cure its suffening — and finally give the child a quality of life worth living? (Obviously, their sincere goal.)

      Or are they simply unwittingly prolonging the doomed child’s suffering in vain, without understanding that there is no real hope left — that sometimes genuine, unselfish love means knowing when to let go?

      Let me be clear: I’m asking an ethical QUESTION — not suggesting a political ANSWER. What’s best for the baby’s fate, and not for either the UK’s or the Vatican’s political agenda, is the only morally acceptable answer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The question is who gets to decide on the child’s best interest in tough cases (absent evidence of the parents being unfit or abusive)?

        In the UK it’s the courts and the courts have consistently decided it’s in his best interest for Alfie to die, the quicker the better.

        I don’t know of any evidence that the parents in this case are unfit or abusive so I think they should be able to make decisions on his behalf (including possibly wrong decisions).

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      2. @Dreidel – if there was a team at the Vatican’s hospital who had genuine reason to believe they could do anything to help Alfie which couldn’t be done in the UK, they would have contacted Liverpool to discuss it fully. That’s what experienced professionals do. Instead Alfie’s father was lied to, by Catholic religious extremists, who arranged for a team of dubious medics to go and see if they could get away with simply ignoring an existing court order. That order was quite clear that it was not in Alfie’s interests to be dragged on a plane, with no short or long term medical plans in place for him, when it was very likely this would decrease the quality and length of life left to him.
        Furthermore, I don’t believe I would be the only one to have severe misgivings about the quality of pallative care that would be given by the Vatican’s hospital, to a non verbal toddler, with desperate parents who’ve already demonstrated a lack of ability in deciding who can be trusted.

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        1. “who’ve already demonstrated a lack of ability in deciding”

          What evidence is there of that beyond the fact that they disagree with the doctors (who have a less than perfect track record in this case)?

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          1. I would invite anyone interested to follow the Secret Barrister thread on Twitter.

            Under English law, Alfie is not a possession of his parents. The barrister acting for the parents submitted that the court should not consider Alfie’s best interests, but should subjugate them to the wishes of his parents.
            The court described this as “startling”. That’s judge-speak for “batshit”.

            Alfie’s father chose to ‘trust’ a letter from a Mr Pavel Stroilov, of the campaigning group Christian Legal Centre, he’s not even a lawyer.

            Also the Vatican hospital do state they don’t have any actual treatment plan or suggestions, so given my ‘respect’ for the Pope was already zero, his statement above brings me into negative figures.

            Also @cliff – what starting point is giving you sympathy for the hospital protesters and those on social media making murder threats to hospital staff? If someone’s ethical/religious beliefs lead them to be standing outside a hospital where sick kids are being treated, screaming and shouting abuse and threatening actual invasion of the property, they need a really long look in the mirror at themselves.

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            1. “Under English law, Alfie is not a possession of his parents”

              That doesn’t make him state property either….

              ” what starting point is giving you sympathy for the hospital protesters and those on social media making murder threats to hospital staff?”

              I’m against threats but “malicious communication” is an opener for a big ole box of worms….

              And it’s not like this hospital has a great reputation (coughorgan scandalcough)

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              1. I had no knowledge whatsoever that there were any hospital protesters. And I most certainly read nothing about this on social media. I simply want to understand the logic of preventing these folks from going to Italy. Nobody has even tried to offer an answer. I’ll wait some more.

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    2. I’ve not even seen the NHS mentioned in this context. I don’t think anybody is blaming the NHS because it’s not an issue of the system not having money or not being equipped to provide care.

      And it’s not a big story here at all. As you can see by the lack of comments, nobody here knows about it.

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    1. That’s a really revolting lie – the government are not starving him to death. Pallative care is the only medical pathway for him now, that’s about pain relief and quality of time remaining with his family. The nutters making death threats against hospital staff deserve everything the law throws at them.

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      1. All I want to know is what’s the harm in the parents taking him to Italy to try something else. Even if it’s completely hopeless, what’s the harm? That’s the only question I have.

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  4. I’m having real difficulty trying to imagine what media coverage for this case must be looking like in other countries –

    “On the consensus of every doctor from every country who had ever evaluated Alfie’s condition,” the judge found, “Alfie’s brain had been so corroded by his Neurodegenerative Brain Disorder that there was simply no prospect of recovery. By the time I requested the updated MRI scan in February, the signal intensity was so bright that it revealed a brain that had been almost entirely wiped out.

    “In simple terms the brain consisted only of water and Cerebrospinal fluid. The connective tissues and the white matter of the brain that had been barely visible six months earlier had now vanished entirely and with it the capacity for sight, hearing, taste, the sense of touch.”

    This is the terrible reality of Alfie’s remorseless degenerative condition. Only the residual wisps of his brain stem keeps his tiny lungs in motion, increasingly fitfully .

    This is not a case for “treatment”. There does come a point, where dying patients become so stressed and distressed by attempts to nourish/hydrate them, that ceasing those efforts is a kindness, allowing for peace to the ending.

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    1. As I said, there’s no coverage. Nobody knows, nobody cares. I found this story on an obscure Catholic blog where people mentioned the story in the context of a discussion of Pope Francis. I find the story mystifying because, as I said, I can’t understand what is the harm in letting the desperate parents try even a hopeless treatment. Maybe there’s something I’m not aware of? Some information I’m lacking? I want to understand so if there’s something, please tell me.

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      1. Thank you for clarifying the coverage issue, Clarissa, as I’d seen (with no active interest search at all) Huckabee and Cruz both tweeting, Liz Wheeler’s nonsense and Nigel Farage ambulance-chasing for the American hard/far right news programmes, and couldn’t tell how wide the reportage was.
        As far as I can answer your main query, in England, such issues are decided on a case by case basis, by a family court judge (not a political appointment), the medical staff were, months ago, concerned by Alfie’s parents plan to possibly take him abroad, for ‘treatment offers’ which had no medical standing. They couldn’t be sure how fast he would deteriorate, at that time there was still a small possibility Alfie might have felt pain. The courts took all the evidence and decided that this was not in Alfie’s interests. Despite Alfie’s worsening condition that ruling still applied and would be enforced.

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  5. The Vactican hospital would have to essentially grow a new brain from scratch to save his life.

    It would seem you’re easily fooled by the Catholic Church and their propaganda.

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    1. Ok, but for the fifteenth time, so what? It’s completely hopeless, fine. My question is: what is the harm in letting the desperate parents go and try? What’s the harm?

      As for the Catholic Church, come on. We all know I hate Francis more than Trump.

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      1. I doubt that the palliative care offered by the Vactican hospital is superior to that of the hospital the infant is in right now. That would be the only reason for his transfer.

        That Francis I is able to pull the wool over your eyes this time isn’t surprising.

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        1. You’ve already said this and I agree. I agree with you. There’s no argument as to this part of it.

          Now. Here is the question: what is the harm in letting the parents try this completely useless treatment? What’s the harm? They want to hope, uselessly and pointlessly. Why deny them this chance?

          What’s the harm? I only want an answer to this one question.

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          1. I definitely see what you’re saying and, in fact, this is my own gut reaction. But maybe the harm is in setting a precedent. If the parent’s wishes are allowed to take precedence over the best interests of the child in this case, maybe it would set a precedent for parents to indeed prolong suffering in other cases. From other things you have said in the past, I would think you would agree with the child not being treated as the property of the parents? Though, I completely feel for the parents in this agonizing situation, and sympathize with their position.

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            1. This can be decided on a case-by-case basis as, indeed, it should. If Alfie is not suffering excruciating pain, then I honestly, sincerely don’t see why the parents shouldn’t be allowed to try. Every day thousands of useless medical procedures are performed. Usefulness was never a standard for denying care.

              If the child were in agony, then maybe we could discuss how it doesn’t make sense to torture him. But he’s not.

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              1. I have just barely followed this case so I may be wrong. But I was under the impression that the stress of a flight and being forced to move several times would be pain- inducing for the child. The medical team/hospital is now trying to provide pain management and trying to prevent the child’s parents from unwittingly and unnecessarily causing him agony. It’s a tragic case all around. But I think it’s in the child’s best interests to remain and the hospital has a responsibility to represent his interests.

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              2. The whole issue is that the British hospital will remove life support and the Italian hospital won’t. I’m utterly baffled as to why anybody would have any problem whatsoever with it.

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  6. This is a terribly distressing situation to observe and even worse for everybody involved, including the doctors. I’m not certain that I’d have a problem with the little boy being taken to the Italian hospital either, if that was the only issue. He is probably beyond suffering and will die soon whatever is done or not done, the pope can’t save him. His poor, distraught parents are being deliberately exploited by religious interests who are setting them against the hospital instead of offering comfort and support, which is despicable.
    The thing is that here in the UK he is legally an individual person and not the property of his parents. They are not allowed to do whatever they want with him. To allow the parents to take him would set a precedent for other people eager to impose loopy treatments or intolerable and pointless journeys on sick and vulnerable children. This is how much of British law works, on precedent and definitely not on papal or presidential edict. The UK government has no actual say in this, the child’s fate is the responsibility of the UK courts, which are independent of the government, unlike in some other countries.

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      1. “He’s brain-dead.”

        Is he? He’s undiagnosed (a situation that drives doctors to…. weirdness) and they’ve been wrong before, they were expecting him to die very soon after withdrawing life support.

        If he’s brain dead, then nothing they can do will distress him. If he’s not, then what’s to lose by transferring him to an environment where professionals don’t want him to physically die ASAP?

        For the record, I’m fairly sure that nothing can be done for Alfie but the scorn and hatred heaped at parents who probably just want the emotional closure of having done everything they could have (and being prevented from that) seems extraordinarily cruel.

        But the mantra of ‘children aren’t the property of their parents’ (which I agree with wholeheartedly) is being expanded to “parents must defer to state authority regarding their children in all issues” (which I vehemently oppose).

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        1. We all know that nobody is a more obsessive fanatic than me on the subject of “children are not the property of their parents” for reasons we all know. But as you say, you can’t have it both ways. He’s either dead or he isn’t. If he is dead, then he can’t be harmed psychologically by parents seeing him as property or anything else. If he’s not, then every kind of treatment should be tried.


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    1. So sad. When something like this happens, so incomprehensible, so tragic, everybody looks for their own way to deal. I don’t even know what the non-religious folks do to survive something like this.

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