Killing Alfie Evans

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  April 30, 2018   

John Paul II: 'Death by starvation or dehydration is ... euthanasia by omission'

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The killing of Alfie Evans resulted from the court and medical field rejecting the God-given rights of Alfie's parents to seek alternative medical care for their son. It also resulted from the dismissal of Alfie's God-given right to receive basic care including food and water.

The boy went many hours without hydration and three days without any nutrition. He finally received a little milk before dying. In his 2004 address on "life-sustaining treatments and vegetative state," Pope St. John Paul II taught that food and water must always be offered even when it's artificially provided. "The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end," said John Paul II, "still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.)." He added, "Death by starvation or dehydration is ... euthanasia by omission."

Alfie Evans lived for five days after being removed from oxygen and a feeding tube when the hospital predicted he would die within minutes. The Holy Father made a special point that even when the food is administered by artificial means it must be provided if the patient is able to be nourished by it:

I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate and, as such, morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality.

The fact that Alder Hey hospital would not allow the parents to seek alternative medical care further exacerbates the situation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 2278 teaches that the patient or his legal guardian has the right to decide such things: "The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected."

Watch the panel discuss the negation of parental rights and of a patient's right to life in The Download—Killing Alfie Evans.


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