Last week, Alfie Evans died after his life support was withdrawn by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after a legal battle with his parents Tom Evans and Kate James.
Alfie had suffered seizures in December 2016 and has been on life support since then. Brain scans showed “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue” and doctors at Alder Hey believed that further treatment was not only “futile” but also “unkind and inhumane”. His parents disagreed and thus the four month legal battle for the life of Alfie Evans began. The public nature of this battle through the high court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) brought it to the attention of the world. Even Pope Francis weighed in and gave Italian citizenship to Alfie and hoped for immediate transfer to one of their hospitals which was denied by the courts as the ruling had been made by then. Unfortunately, because of the “flight risk” the courts then denied the parents the right to take Alfie home.
Who decides the life of Alfie Evans?
Social media has made this a battle between the evil State and the loving parents:
How dare the state overrule the wishes of the parents! Parents are granted the “inalienable natural right to protect the life of their children”. How dare they remove basics such as Oxygen and, for a time, water when these are not medical treatments but the essentials of life.
Then there are those who object to Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling that says that Alfie’s life was futile which riles the pro-life side that believes all life is sacred.
But yet this same State has overruled parents who denied their children blood transfusions (as they were Jehovah’s Witnesses) and has also overruled parents who wanted to take their children abroad to euthanasia centres.
Who gets decide the life of children?
Whether that be through cutting them short through euthanasia or artificially extending them through life support.
I won’t pretend this is easy and the closest my wife and I have come to this nightmare was with our baby Rachel. She was an ectopic pregnancy and when my wife was admitted to hospital in agony they discovered the cause and prepped her for immediate surgery to remove the “problem”. We were overruled as the hospital saw that continued pregnancy would kill my wife.
Who gets to live – my wife or my baby?
But as is often the case in life, we are presented with a false dichotomy and are forced to choose.
You see our children’s lives and indeed our own lives are not ours.
They are a loan from God.
We are accountable to God for all the days of our lives and our children’s lives and it is Him that we should seek counsel from.
Not the State and not ourselves.
Back to that hospital room where my wife and I were weeping over the hospital’s decision. We knew that her life was not ours to take. We called out to God, we begged Him to take Rachel before they did.
And in His graciousness we experienced His peace that was beyond anything we can describe and contrary to the anxiousness we had been experiencing just moments before. And in His mercy we found out afterwards that Rachel had burst the fallopian tube and was already dead before they operated.
And in His infinite love and care he sent an angel to visit my wife after the operation – but that’s a story for another time.
When facing these trials let us not get sucked into the world’s two choices and end up demanding our rights, but instead call out to the One from whom all life comes and to whom we are accountable.
Father, I ask for You to send your angels to encamp around Tom Evans and Kate James and their family. Give them Your peace that passes all understanding and help them to grieve well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.