Backlash After Court Rejects Alfie Evans Appeal

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by Alexander Slavsky  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 23, 2018   

Ruling contrary to wishes of parents, the pope and numerous bishops

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STRASBOURG, France (ChurchMilitant.com) - The European rights court is handing down a death sentence for a sick British infant, which prompted a protest of 200 people outside his hospital.

Monday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld lower court rulings to condemn Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old child with a rare degenerative neurological condition, who has been on feeding and breathing tubes at Alder Hey in Liverpool, England, since December 2016. 

"The European Court of Human Rights has rejected the application submitted by the family of Alfie Evans as inadmissible," an ECHR spokesman said on Monday. 

Following the ECHR decision, "Alfie's Army" protesters gathered Monday outside Alder Hey and chanted: "Save Alfie Evans." The people blocked the road temporarily and about a dozen tried to enter the hospital before police prevented access. 


ECHR's ruling comes after Alfie's parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, along with the parents' lawyer Paul Diamond of the Christian Legal Centre's Standing Counsel, appealed to the Supreme Court on Tuesday after the British Appeals Court dismissed the appeal on April 16. 

The Supreme Court also rejected the family's appeal on Friday, saying:

The hospital must be free to do what has been determined to be in Alfie's best interests. Alfie looks like a normal baby, but the unanimous opinion of the doctors, who have examined him and the scans of his brain, is that almost all of his brain has been destroyed. No one knows why. But that it has happened and is continuing to happen cannot be denied. It means that Alfie cannot breathe or eat or drink without sophisticated medical treatment. It also means that there is no hope of his ever getting better. 

Supreme Court Judges Lady Brenda Hale, Lord Brian Kerr and Lord Nicholas Wilson delivered the verdict, insisting, "The hospital must be free to do what has been determined in Alfie's best interests. That is the law in this country. No application of the European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, can or should change that." 

The ECHR ruled March 28 that the hospital could withdraw Alfie from his feeding and breathing after his parents appealed the Family Division of the High Court in Liverpool ruling from February. The ECHR ruling has been upheld by the court of appeal judges and Supreme Court justices. 

Britain's High Court said that Alfie should only receive palliative care, but his parents wanted Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome to provide the toddler with two surgical procedures — a breathing tube into his throat and a feeding tube into his stomach — both of which were suggested. 

On Friday, Brazilian bishops offered their "full and unconditional support" for Alfie and his parents, affirming that life "is sacred and inviolable and under no circumstances can, under any argument, be vilified or suppressed. Hence, we reiterate our desire that all medical care be provided to little Alfie Evans and that his rights are granted and needs are provided." 


This is contrary to the archdiocese of Liverpool that pledged its support to "doctors and staff" of Alder Hey in an internal memo leaked on April 16, in which an auxiliary bishop said the hospital is acting "in the best interests of Alfie" and describes Alder Hey as "a center of excellence." 

Tom Evans met in a private audience with the Holy Father on Wednesday "to plea for asylum" and to "bring him, here, to Italy at Bambin Gesu where we know he is safe and he will not be euthanized."  

"When Alfie shows me and his mum any sign of suffering or dying, we will enjoy every last moment with him but Alfie has not yet shown us he is ready to go, so we continue to fight just as he shows us to," said Evans to Pope Francis. "If Your Holiness helps our child, Your Holiness will be potentially saving the future for our children in the U.K., especially the disabled." 

We reiterate our desire that all medical care be provided to little Alfie Evans and that his rights are granted and needs are provided.

Following the meeting, the pope entrusted Italian Bp. Francesco Cavina of Carpi to preserve relations between the Vatican's Secretariat of State and the family "so that all initiatives be taken to transfer the child to the Bambino Gesù in Rome." 

The Holy Father commended Evans for his perseverance, saying, "Thomas, you defend your son with courage, the same courage with which God defends His children."  

In an interview with Vatican News on Wednesday, Cavina commented that the refusal by Alder Hey and the British courts to allow for Alfie to leave England and be treated in Italy "is difficult to understand." 

"Humanly speaking, it is and seems incredible. From the point of view of common sense, it seems to me that we are beyond all human logic," continued Bp. Cavina. "Two parents who ask to transfer their child from one hospital to another, I do not understand why this should be prevented." 

Evans and James' son was born healthy in May 2016 but after missing a number of developmental milestones, Alfie's parents knew something was wrong. In December of that year, the sick toddler suffered a chest infection and was hospitalized for seizures. He has remained on life support at Alder Hey ever since. 

 

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