The row over terminally ill Alfie Evans

23-month-old Alfie Evans, who suffers from an unidentified neurological disease, may not leave his native Britain for medical treatment. Life support measures are pointless, a court in Manchester ruled, upholding the decision of another British court. Pope Francis and supporters of the parents are campaigning for further treatment. Should doctors continue the fight to save the boy's life?

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La Stampa (IT) /

Children do not belong to their parents

The interests of the child must come first, lawyer Vladimiro Zagrebelsky writes in La Stampa:

“Those who sides with the parents against the doctors hold the view that the parents should have the final say. ... But the parents' relationship with their children is based on responsibility, not ownership. So if the parents' behaviour runs counter to the child's interests, they must even be stripped of custody. Yes, the parents' opinion matters, but it's not an unsurmountable obstacle, as those who see the decision of the doctors and the judges as an abuse of authority believe. In cases in which the will of the parents conflicts with the interests of the child, the assessment of an outsider is required. And this assessment must be made first by doctors and then by judges.”

The Times (GB) /

Accept the verdicts of doctors and judges

Some pro-life groups are taking advantage of the case to advance their questionable agendas, The Times criticises:

“Genuine support for Tom Evans, Alfie's father, and Kate James, his mother, at such an extraordinarily difficult time would consist of helping them to understand that the courts and hospital staff are with them and their son, not against them. Instead, false hopes have been raised and Alfie has served as a pretext for intimidating demonstrations outside the hospital that have little to do with the details of his case. A society under the rule of law has to handle these rare but heartrending situations by interrogating doctors and the courts, and ultimately accepting their verdicts.” (PL) /

Is the UK still governed by the rule of law?

The national-conservative daily criticises the British judges' decision that Alfie Evans' life support should be switched off and asks whether the rule of law still applies in the UK:

“Are the hypocrites who are delighted by the birth of yet another royal baby able to recognise the will to live of another small boy? In a country where value is measured in terms of economic growth, is there still room for sacrifices in the name of a disabled child? Is a country in which murder is committed in the name of the law and against the parents' will still a state governed by the rule of law? Will the EU finally make a statement on the case? Will the EU Commissioners who are fighting tooth and nail against the logging of sick trees in the Bialowieża rain forest also fight for the life of a sick boy?”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Questionable prolongation of suffering

Rome's interference in a British medical-legal affair is incomprehensible, philosopher Michela Marzano writes in La Repubblica:

“Also from an ethical and legal point of view. A few months ago a law was passed in Italy forbidding doctors from administering 'pointless or disproportionate' treatments to patients. How can you bring a child to Italy whose life is being prolonged only through the dogged use of medicine? It's no coincidence that the European Court of Human Rights also rejected the complaint filed by Alfie's parents to avoid being in conflict with the ruling of the British courts: there is no reason to doubt the doctors' assessment that keeping Alfie alive any longer only means inflicting more pain on him.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Leave no option untried

Rome is doing the right thing by offering the child another chance to survive, the Catholic daily Avvenire comments:

“If the English doctors say there is no alternative but to turn off the machines and let the child die/kill him, then that is simply their opinion. They have given up. But when other doctors in this world, other excellent hospitals are offering the patient an alternative therapy, when they want to try to diagnose the unknown disease, it goes against medical ethics to prevent a transfer.”