In The Aftermath Of Alfie Evans — Can We Admit Socialized Medicine Isn’t Pro-life?

Kristan Hawkins President, Students for Life of America
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With the tragic government-sanctioned actions ending the lives of toddler Alfie Evans and infant Charlie Gard happening less than a year apart, it’s now a good time to restate two maxims. First, socialized medicine fails at protecting the sanctity of the dignity of all human life. Second, being pro-life and being for socialized medicine are loyalties in conflict, not in congruence. While it is often a common argument that to be ‘really pro-life’ you have to support socialized medicine because of the assumed goal of care for all, these two cases and countless others should call that into question for those who push that conviction. 

Most of us would agree that high-quality healthcare is something we desire, but history shows that socialized medicine is not the path to a superior medical system, especially when it comes to the need for high-quality that protects innocent life. 

Let’s start with the two recent examples, both under Britain’s famed National Health Service. In 2016, Charlie Gard was born with a rare disease. Despite his parents and supporters raising over a million dollars to bring Charlie to the United States for experimental treatments, doctors decided instead to go to the UK High Court to have his ventilator removed. You read that right. His doctors actually petitioned for permission to not only let him die, but to block him from seeking privately-funded healthcare.

Those doctors evidently have the same disregard for human life as Alfie Evan’s doctors. Evans, born just a few months before Gard, died recently after lingering in a semi-vegetative state, diagnosed with a similar affliction as Gard. In December 2017, after appealing to the courts, Alfie’s parents fought with the legal system in a failed attempt to win life-saving care for Alfie, trying to overcome the will of doctor after doctor who decreed it was ‘inhumane’ to let Evans keep living.

Sadly, the courts again sided with the medical system to force Aflie’s parents to do nothing besides standing beside him as died. The United Kingdom Court of Appeals actually prevented the toddler’s parents from taking him outside of the British medical system for treatment, even after the Italian government granted him citizenship and had a plane and medical team, at their cost, standing by to fly him to Italy for treatment.

That is the problem of government controlled, court-enforced medical systems. Parents’ rights are secondary to the will of the government and hard-eyed cost cutters and quality of life dictators can then decide through rationing or denied care who lives or dies based on their continued healthcare costs and the value of their lives to the state. 

As the mother of two kids with special needs, Cystic Fibrosis, top-down government control of healthcare terrifies me. As the disaster of Obamacare continues to die it’s slow death, the left-wing of the Democrat Party (aka the Democrat Party) is now pushing for 100% socialized medicine. Not only does this threat of U.K. style of socialized medicine in the United States scare me; it’s also is a violation of respect for the sanctity of life.

“That will never happen here” is a common argument I hear. But isn’t that what was said in Belgium, another country with both socialized medicine and an increasing disregard for the sanctity of human life. In 2002, the country legalized euthanasia. In 2013, the country extended it to children.

 And the result? In February, National Review reported on a whistleblower on a euthanasia review committee who exposed just a few shocking uses of euthanasia, including organ harvesting and an elderly couple that asked to be euthanized to avoid being widows. A politician who championed the Belgium children’s euthanasia law said, “It’s important that society doesn’t neglect people in such pain.” But that’s what euthanasia does–neglects comfort care and those seeking treatment, instead preferring killing the child and pretending something positive and helpful was done.

And here is the fatal flaw of socialized medicine; someone else, other than the patient or the family, determines when a life no longer has value. A bureaucrat or a judge determines who gets to live and who gets to die. We have enough recorded history to know that letting a small group people determine which lives have value and which do not is a standard we want to avoid.

Michael Tanner, writing for the Cato Institute, observed: “Europeans are now learning some hard facts of life about socialized medicine: there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The question is whether Congress will learn from Europe’s mistakes as it takes the next steps in reforming the American health care system.”

As Alfie and Charlie illustrate, the stakes for the wrong healthcare system are life and death for the vulnerable. 

Kristan Hawkins, @KristanHawkins, is president of Students for Life of America, which serves more than 1,200 Students for Life groups on college and high school campuses in all 50 states.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.