There is a massive dark cloud hanging over the West with the word DEATH written all over it. We live in a culture that celebrates death, promotes death, favours death, and enthuses over death. The tragic Alfie Evans episode is simply the most recent ugly case in point.
If we wanted a theological explanation for all this, we merely need to turn to a passage such as Proverbs 8:36: “All who hate me [God] love death”. That pretty well sums things up. As the West increasingly turns its back on God and renounces him and his ways, we see more and more of a death cult arising.
It is simply scary to be living in the West today. Indeed, I have had quite a few people now – especially elderly people – saying how worried they are given how easy it can be for them to get bumped off against their will. These are completely legitimate concerns.
Decades ago when I lived in the Netherlands, (the first nation to legalise euthanasia), there were all sorts of older folks leaving the country for fear of being put down against their will. Sadly, things have only gotten much worse there since then.
Fuzzy thinking abounds
What I want to highlight here is the incredible amount of sloppy thinking on this case. I have dealt with so much of this already. Some folks are asking honest questions and mean well. Some are just woefully ignorant of the basics here. And others are fully endorsing and promoting the culture of death.
Let me begin by looking at a few scenarios, then look at some remarks people had made about the case, and my response to them. Consider the mainstream media on this. Many did not even run with the story of his death. For example, I did not see anything on ABC news late that night about the death of little Alfie, but they did have a lengthy report on trying to save Tasmanian devils. Yep, that figures.
Consider another rather shocking incident. Outside of Alder Hey Hospital balloons were released by Alfie’s Army upon hearing of his death. It was a small symbolic gesture to express the emotion and pain of so many people. But what was utterly shocking was how others responded to this.
On one media website where this story was reported, the comments on it were staggering. One person after another commented, NOT to say how horrible the way little Alfie was treated, but to bemoan the fact that all these balloons were released, and how they might damage the environment! They said the balloons would kill!
I was utterly gobsmacked to read all these comments which showed people being far more concerned about some lousy balloons than for the cruel death of a little boy. Talk about a culture of death in full swing. Talk about utterly screwed up priorities here. Yes, environmental concerns are important, but even more important is the reality of state-sanctioned killing.
Plenty of secularists and atheists added to this discussion. I have actually seen some of them celebrating his death, saying it should have happened sooner. But I guess we expect this kind of thinking from these folks. They made bold claims like ‘he was dying anyway’ and there was ‘nothing that could be done for him,’ etc. Hmm, so many medical experts here! One even said ‘his brain had turned to mush’. Um, actually it was that person’s mind that may have turned to mush.
The simple truth is, Alfie had some sort of neurological condition which the doctors were unsure of and could not accurately diagnose. Other doctors and hospitals said he was not dying, and said that other treatment options might do some good. But of course Alfie and his parents were cruelly denied these options.
I take it that most of those who made such heartless comments clearly are NOT parents. Any parent in the world would have done anything to try to help cure a sick child. Yet I even had one guy trying to insist that dying by starvation is not painful! Good grief.
But what was of even greater concern was what many Christians said about this case. I was quite taken back by so many of their comments. The need of the hour is for God’s people to actually think, and to think carefully, and not just regurgitate worldly notions.
One guy for example spoke of his own cancer as an older man and a Christian leader. He said he really could not condemn the hospital or really side too much with Alfie! While we all should pray for anyone with cancer, since when does a Christian take his own personal experience and extrapolate it on to others, and even on to the Word of God?
Firstly, the Scriptures are overwhelmingly clear on the vital importance of the sanctity of life, and the sin of suicide, which is exactly what voluntary euthanasia is. Secondly, as I told him, his case was quite different from that of little Alfie.
I said he was in fact mixing apples and oranges. In a genuine case of an older person with a terminal illness, all pro-lifers agree that the natural course of dying should be allowed to take place, and we should not seek to interfere with it.
But this was not the case with Alfie. There were other options available, with places like Italy even offering little Alfie immediate citizenship, complete with medical helicopters on standby to take him to Italian hospitals. But they were denied this option.
And then I had another Christian make another odd claim: that this case had nothing to do with the state! Um, it is a STATE hospital! This fellow would of course know all about the NHS: the National Health System, the state operated and state funded health care system in the UK, of which Alder Hey Hospital is a part. This case had everything to do with the state, and with state-run health care.
Another person, who might be a parent, said that he thought the state had some rights here and was not obliged to keep a person in a terminal condition alive, and that parents do not own children, etc. He asked what he might be missing in all this. Since his comments would be representative of many, let me offer here what I said in reply:
Yes I am afraid you are missing a few things. To get my full take on this, be aware that I have penned four articles on this case, so you may want to read all four to help fill in the missing bits you need here. But you are making some false assumptions and asking some wrong questions. First, you wrongly assume he was a no hoper and a terminal case. The doctors admitted that they did NOT even know what his actual problem was. He had an undiagnosed neurological condition, sometimes with the word “degenerative” added as a prefix. If you had a child with that condition, I don’t think you would glibly say, “Yeah, OK, bump him off”. Any genuine parent would not only want further opinions, but would do all they could to see if some other treatment was possible.
And that is exactly the point here: other world class doctors and hospitals around the globe actually offered their expertise to do just that: to carefully examine him and perhaps provide alternative treatment which might have been beneficial. But the hospital, doctors and courts all denied that to Alfie and his parents. THAT is the real damnable ugliness of this case. That is what every single freedom loving person must shudder at in horror. The State decides who should live and who should die. The State decides what treatment options can be permitted. The State even decides if a parent can remove their child from the hospital for other treatment, or simply even take the child home! Even that simple request was denied to these grieving parents. That is utterly diabolical.
Thus he was NOT in some definite terminal condition in which any and all treatment would have been futile. And no prolifer argues that a person on the natural course of death should be kept alive artificially by extraordinary means. But Alfie was denied ventilation, nutrition and hydration by the State (the NHS, Alder Hey, doctors, UK and EU courts). Thus they were all an accessory to murder. Welcome to the ugly world of socialised medicine. A chance for other options was stripped away from Alfie and the parents by an all-powerful State. That is ugly Big Brother Statism at its worst, and no conservative let alone Christian can ever countenance that. Even secular libertarians should be up in arms about this.
And as I said, it has happened before, eg, with Schiavo and Gard, and is now becoming routine. So you ask the wrong question about parents owning children. The right question to ask here is, “Does the State own children?” That is the real issue here. Welcome to a Brave New World of State Executioners.
In sum, there has been all sorts of dubious thinking on this case from both believers and non-believers, from conservatives and non-conservatives. Some of this thinking has been woolly in the extreme, and/or loaded with all sorts of mistaken notions, faulty assumptions, or inaccurate information.
Too many people seem to be quite unclear about these sorts of matters, be it abortion, euthanasia or infanticide. That is why I have already written two books on the first two issues, and hundreds of articles. We really need some moral and mental clarity here.
Two recent developments are well worth noting here. The first concerns the ugly truth that Alfie is clearly not alone in this. Others have also been put in the same position. One English news report says this:
The Liverpool Care Pathway, under which medication, nutrition and fluids can be withdrawn, is being used on young patients as well as severely-disabled new born babies, it has been revealed. The disclosure has sparked a row amid concerns that parents may feel “coerced” into allowing their child to be placed on the pathway. It came as a doctor disclosed in a leading medical journal that he had presided over ten cases involving end-of-life procedures for newborns.
In the article he described in excruciating detail how the process of withdrawing food and fluid from severely disabled newborns could take an average of ten days during which the infant becomes “smaller and shrunken”. Ministers have ordered an independent inquiry into the use of the LCP, a process on which 130,000 elderly and terminally-ill adult patients die each year.
The pathway, designed to ease the suffering of patients in their last hours or days of life, has come under intense scrutiny. Many people have claimed loved-ones were put on the pathway without their knowledge while some doctors have claimed it can hasten death. The inquiry will look at issues such as why doctors are sometimes not informing relatives of decisions to put patients on the LCP, and the question of payments to hospitals for meeting targets on their use of it.
And second, some politicians have thankfully had enough of this Orwellian health care. One has proposed a law to make some sweeping changes. As one write-up puts it:
Alfie’s case has, like Charlie’s, sparked international outrage. Now, a British MP is stepping in with a new proposal, which he calls “Alfie’s Law,” to ensure that no family has to go through such a horrific situation again. MP Steve Woolfe announced his plan on Facebook, citing Alfie and Charlie’s cases, along with a boy named Aysha King, whose parents took him to the Czech Republic for proton beam therapy, and were “hunted across Europe” for it. Ashya is now in remission.
Woolfe launched his campaign outside the Houses of Parliament, calling for parents to have their right to make medical decisions for their children restored in the United Kingdom. “The cases of Charlie Gard, Aysha King, and now Alfie Evans, show a dangerous trend of public bodies depriving parents and families of the right to make decisions they believe are in the best interests of their children,” he said during a press conference. “Parents’ rights should neither be ignored nor dismissed as irrelevant by hospitals and courts, who believe they know best and have the power, money and resources to overwhelm families who simply want to save their child.”
“We demand a change in the law to restore the rights of parents in such decisions. All parents should be allowed an independent advocate to defend their case with the right legal and medical expertise and financial equality of arms,” he continued. “Now is the time to act. We cannot have another baby, another family, have to go through the struggle and torment the Evans family have. It’s time for Alfie’s Law.”
Thank you Steve Woolfe. Finally a voice of compassion, love and life in an increasingly dark and death-affirming culture.