Alfie Evans Is Killed, NHS Commits Suicide

By | April 29, 2018 | 8 Comments

Death is always a tragedy. It is especially tragic when a young person dies. But it is even more tragic when a young person is killed. And it is most tragic of all when a person or a health-care system commits suicide. Suicide implies that the person, or the system, has lost all hope of attaining any meaningful goal and sees no purpose in going on.

Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans were killed by the British National Health Service. But the NHS is committing suicide. It indeed provides free health care. And it is working hard to prove that people are getting their money’s worth.

Charlie Gard.

Remember him? You should. He was the British baby born with a rare metabolic defect that thus far is uniformly fatal. The doctors cared for him free of charge, as the National Health Service promises. But they decided that his case was hopeless. He who pays the piper calls the tune. In this case, the tune was, “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You.”

Single payer delivers the care it deems necessary ‒ and not one iota more. Those who favor single payer should consider whether they want to entrust the lives of themselves and their loved ones to remote, faceless, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats.

An American doctor proposed an experimental treatment. Charlie’s parents decided that faint hope was better than none at all. They collected money to take Charlie to America for treatment.

The British doctors objected. They decided there was no hope, and they refused to take the risk of being proved wrong. They went to court to forbid the Gards from removing their son from the hospital. The court agreed, denying the parents’ right to decide the care of their child.

It is one thing to force parents to allow necessary medical care for their child. It is quite another to forbid care, even if the treatment is unproven. This gives new meaning to the term “arbitrary and capricious,” and should be filed under “O” for oppressive.

Appeals to higher courts were unavailing. By the time the American doctor was allowed to see Charlie, six months had elapsed, and by that time his case was indeed hopeless. The circular argument had circled. The self-fulfilling prophesy had been fulfilled. Charlie died a week before his first birthday.

What if Charlie had been allowed to come to America for experimental treatment? Would it have worked? At the very least, would something have been learned that would help other children, thus giving meaning to Charlie’s brief life and some shred of solace to his parents?

I don’t know. But at least they could have been allowed to try. At least the preference would have been to continue life, not to end it. At least the power of the state would have been used to support the family, not to crush it.

Alfie Evans.

Not quite a year after Charlie Gard left this world, history repeated itself. But as is the case with Hollywood sequels, this was even more dramatic. This time Pope Francis and the Italian government got involved. This time the religious implications of the case were made brilliantly clear. This time only the willfully ignorant could ignore what was happening. Of course, many people are willfully ignorant, so many people did ignore what was happening.

To quote Vox:

Evans was born apparently healthy in May 2016 but began experiencing inexplicable seizures in December 2016, and was in a semi-vegetative state at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, until his death. Doctors were unable to diagnose what exactly was wrong with Evans, but they argued his condition was both worsening and terminal. Earlier this year, Alder Hey doctors made the decision to take Evans off life support, on the grounds that treatment was futile and that prolonging his life under such conditions was “unkind and inhumane.”

Alfie’s parents disagreed. They lobbied to seek additional care for him at the Bambino Gesù [Baby Jesus] Hospital in Rome [the largest pediatric hospital in Europe], which also offered to treat Charlie Gard, seeing Alder Hey’s decision as an infringement on their rights to do what they believe is best for their son. Hospital officials argued that transporting Evans would be risky and painful to the child and denied his family the right to do so.

Under UK law, when doctors and parents disagree about the best course of action, the final decision is made through the court systems. This is largely because of the 1989 Children Act, a law designed to safeguard child welfare by giving the state limited powers to intervene against a parent’s wishes in certain cases, including medical care. The logic is that a court will rule in the best interest of the child, even when it contradicts the best interest or desire of the parents.

As was the case with Charlie Gard, the case worked its way through the court system ‒ I refuse to call it the justice system. As with Charlie, the nobility stuck together against us peasants. That’s what the nobility do, both in the UK and in the USA.

No, we don’t call them nobility. We have a chief justice, not a lord chief justice. We call a judge “your honor,” not “your lordship.” But in practice, things work quite similarly. The elite decide what is best for us ignorant, benighted peasants ‒ you know, the deplorables, the irredeemables, and the bitter clingers. In theory, in America power flows from the people upwards. But in practice, in America as in the UK, power flows from the top downwards ‒ that is, if it is allowed to flow at all. If you doubt this, read Michelle Malkin’s incisive column.

Alfie’s parents visited the Vatican and enlisted the support of Pope Francis. He tweeted:

Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.

Alfie was granted Italian citizenship, and an airplane was offered to take him to Rome for treatment. The British establishment refused. The Pope sent a priest to be at the bedside. But he made the medical staff uncomfortable by reminding them that God was watching and would judge them. As a result, the priest was removed from the hospital. The comfort of the staff was more important than the life of the child. How revealing.

As was the case with Charlie, after months of legal maneuvers proved fruitless, Alfie died. Or rather, the process of killing him succeeded. The doctors’ self-fulfilling prophesy was fulfilled. Their circular argument came full circle. If you remove life support from a seriously ill patient, the patient dies. If you declare the patient “terminal,” you make your prediction come true. If you wait months for courts to decide, the patient’s condition deteriorates. Then you can never be proved wrong. How convenient for the narcissistic. How reassuring for the arrogant. How comforting for the hubristic. But how dangerous for all the rest of us.

Just imagine if Charlie or Alfie had improved with new therapy. That would mean that the NHS wasn’t perfect. How dare you suggest such heresy? True, cancer survival figures from the UK are the lowest, while US figures are the highest. But everyone knows that the NHS is superb, and that the US system is “broken” ‒ right?

The British health-care system used to be one of the best. Brits discovered penicillin, invented fiber-optic scopes, and co-invented the CAT scan and the MRI. But then they aimed for equality, as do most socialists, not by raising the floor, but by lowering the ceiling. Everyone got “free” care, but often it was suboptimal, and sometimes it was hardly care at all ‒ witness the patients who were given no water and had to drink from flower vases. One young doctor says the NHS is in “terminal decline.”

In the ultimate irony, the government saved no money. Had Charlie been allowed to go to America, and had Alfie been allowed to go to Italy, the government would not have spent one more penny on their care. Saving money by rationing care is an important aspect of these cases, but not the most important aspect. The key point is to drive home to everyone in brutally clear terms that the government is supreme ‒ above the parents, above medical ethics, and above God Himself.

We can have God Almighty, or we can have government almighty. It’s our choice. But we have to choose. If we remain passive, the choice will be made for us ‒ by the government.

I wish you good luck and good health. With single payer, you’ll need both.

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