I’ve been an Anglophile since 2005, when I interned on an MP’s campaign – and this love has grown over the years thanks to the Great British Baking Show and a fondness for tracking Kate Middleton’s fashions. Alas, some recent developments in Britain have led me to believe that it’s finally time to call it quits with my onetime love.
Alfie Evans is a terminally ill 23-month-old child in Liverpool, receiving health care through the National Health Service (NHS). Suffering from epilepsy and a neurogenerative disease, he has been on a ventilator for about a year in a semi-vegetative state. The hospital recommended that active treatment be stopped – which would result in his death. The parents have desperately tried to transfer Alfie to another hospital where treatment might be continued, and have been repeatedly blocked; in fact, the hospital made efforts to remove the family’s parental rights in court, which they eventually walked back in the face of a substantial backlash.
In response, Alfie’s mother and father mounted a public relations campaign to try and save their son’s life by controlling his health care – a petition to release Alfie to a hospital of his family’s choosing garnered over 500,000 signatures, and the Vatican has offered to fly him to Rome to continue treatment. Sadly, British courts barred the family from taking their son out of the Alder Hey Hospital, despite the fact that Italian government granted Alfie Italian citizenship and is providing an air ambulance outside the hospital to transport him. On Monday, Alfie’s ventilator was turned off – yet somewhat miraculously, the child began to breathe on his own. Nevertheless, the hospital has withheld oxygen, water, and food from him as the legal wrangling continues.
Unsurprisingly, there’s been a global outcry about the situation. However, the attention hasn’t been welcome by all parties; the local police force issued a vaguely threatening warning on Twitter & Facebook, stating “Merseyside Police has been made aware of a number of social media posts which have been made with reference to Alder Hey Hospital and the ongoing situation involving Alfie Evans. I would like to make people aware that these posts are being monitored and remind social media users that any offences including malicious communications and threatening behaviour will be investigated and where necessary will be acted upon.”
How dare the international community express their outrage at our local hospital for condemning a child to death! You keep your mouths shut now, y’hear?
IWF has written extensively about the UK’s NHS over the years – because it’s often held up as an example of the sort of single-payer health care system that the US should aspire to implement here. I hope that this latest horrific story puts those demands on ice forever.
And for those people who say this was an isolated incident: it’s not. Look up Charlie Gard.
In the meantime, please keep Alfie Evans and his family in your prayers.