(CNSNews.com) – The Court of Appeal in London on Wednesday rejected a last-ditch appeal by the parents of Alfie Evans to have the seriously-ill toddler flown to Rome for treatment.
The panel’s presiding judge, Lord Justice McFarlane, said there was no reason to overrule an earlier High Court judgment, which stated that Alfie’s parents could take him home from Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, but not take him abroad for further treatment.
“This is awful for everyone concerned,” Sky News quoted McFarlane as saying. “We are in the middle of palliative care plan at Alder Hey Hospital. I can see no basis that judgment was wrong.”
The 23-month-old, who has a rare but undiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder, has defied doctors’ expectations by living for two full days after being removed from life-support on Monday night.
Lawyers representing parents Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, argued that as Alfie has been granted Italian citizenship and an air ambulance is on standby, they should be allowed to take him to a children’s hospital in Rome for further treatment.
Medical specialists at Alder Hey have argued, successfully from the courts’ point of view, that there is no realistic prospect of further treatment, beyond palliative care.
Alfie and his parents are being helped by Christian Concern’s Christian Legal Center.
Explaining the decision to take up the case, the center’s chief executive, Andrea Minichiello Williams, wrote this week that many have asked why the case matters – “Why put so much effort into treating just one, very ill boy, which will almost certainly turn out to be futile?”
It matters – Alfie matters – she argued, “because he is a human being, made in God’s image and with inherent dignity. From the strongest to the weakest, from the fittest to the frailest, we all matter, and we should all be protected.”
Williams pointed out that Alfie’s condition remains undiagnosed.
“There are other, excellent hospitals ready to continue caring for Alfie and attempting to help,” she wrote. “No one is forcing Alder Hey to keep treating Alfie indefinitely. They are being asked to stand down, pass the medical records on, and allow others to treat him. It is this that Alder Hey has been fighting, tooth and nail.”
Williams said there were times when the state must intervene in family matters, such as when a child is being abused or neglected.
“But, more and more, as in Alfie’s case, the state is overriding the parents’ views on what’s best for their children,” she said.
“The path we are on leads only to a form of benevolent totalitarianism – the paternalistic state deciding in as many cases as possible what is ‘best’ for its people, and having no respect for the God-given, natural, rights and responsibilities of parents.”