Parents Of U.K. Child Sentenced To Die File Last-Minute Appeal

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

The parents of Alfie Evans filed a last-minute appeal Wednesday for their son to receive treatment outside the U.K. instead of shutting off his life-support.

Tom Evans and Kate James filed their appeal on behalf of their son after Mr. Justice Anthony Hayden of the U.K. High Court set a date for Alder Hey Hospital staff to shut off Alfie’s life support, effectively sentencing him to die, according to LifeSite News. Hayden chose to keep the date of Alfie’s impending death private; but while the U.K. press refused to publish the date, Italian newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana reported Hayden set April 13 as Alfie’s final day of life.

Alfie was born in May 2016 without complication but developed a chest infection in December of the same year, for which his parents brought him to Alder Hey hospital. Alfie’s condition deteriorated as he developed an unknown neurological degenerative condition reducing him to what the hospital called a “semi-vegetable state.” Alfie’s treatment should continue, Tom and Kate argued. When hospital staff told them continuing to treat their son would be “futile,” they requested him to be transferred to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital.

The hospital sought guidance from the U.K. High Court in February. Hayden agreed with the hospital’s assessment of Alfie’s condition and ruled continued treatment for Alfie would be “unkind, unfair and inhumane.” Since that Feb. 20 ruling, the U.K. Appeals Court and the European Court of Human Rights have ruled against Tom and Kate’s wishes to take their son to hospitals in Italy or Germany that have offered to treat him.

The issue was a matter of parental rights and Alfie’s parents ought to not only have the right to take their child to a different hospital but also to choose the time and place his life support is shut off, Tom and Kate’s lawyer, Paul Diamond of the Christian Legal Centre, argued during the April 11 hearing concerning the date of Alfie’s death.

Alfie’s parents had “primary responsibility for their son and full parental rights,” Diamond said. He also presented a video before the court, which he claimed showed Alfie had improved cognition.

Hayden reportedly ignored Diamond’s arguments and expressed concern about the online distribution of Alfie videos, citing the child’s privacy, according to Life Site.

“[Alfie] has no say over those videos being taken and put on the Internet,” Hayden said, according to Life Site. “Those videos strike me as at times intrusive of his privacy.”

Hayden also accused Tom of compromising his son’s identity, saying he must have been driven to do so by “distress and confusion.”

Tom and Kate, however, remain stalwart in their fight for Alfie’s life, according to Chief Executive of Christian Legal Centre Andrea Williams.

“Thomas and Kate never leave Alfie’s side. They witness to his increasing responsiveness. The state cannot override their desire to seek further treatment for their son especially when such help is being offered by three different hospitals. The state must not pass and enforce a death sentence. Even at this eleventh hour, with heavy odds against us, we will fight to the end alongside Tom and Kate for their son’s life,” a statement from Williams read, according to Life Site.

Tom and Kate hope the court will hear their appeal later on Thursday, they said.

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