Backstory: Alfie Evans is a little boy in England who has been on the front lines in a life support battle between his parents, health officials and the British government. Alfie, like Charlie Gard, has been used as a symbol for those preaching against socialized medicine. Alfie is suspected as having a degenerative mitochondrial condition which is terminal.
My own concerns with Aflie’s situation, beyond the heartache and tragedy, are thus:
1. His parents are barred from seeking a second opinion outside of “the system.”
2. The hospital has police guarding the boy, so the parents can’t take him out of the building.
The first matter just doesn’t sit well with me. We hear all the time we need to seek a second opinion. A true second opinion is not another doctor in the same medical facility, but one outside of the facility/hospital/practice. Locally here, the Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem is coming under fire now for performing mastectomies and lumpectomies on women who were diagnosed with cancer but didn’t actually have it. Second opinions can mean life or death.
The second matter is such a violation of human rights I can’t see straight. I liken it to a police state. As of today, the parents are going to court to see if a judge will allow them to take their little boy home to die. I. Can’t. Even. The hospital and has fought and won the right to refuse further treatment for the boy, and now, they won’t let him leave the building. They won’t care for him, but they won’t let others care for him, either.
The one thing good to come of this—even with its hijacking of causes from the anti-socialized medicine groups and the anti-vaxxers—is that we’re talking about these issues. We’re having conversations about the right to refuse treatment, the right to give treatment, and the right to die with dignity, et. al. These are discussions that we need to have. These affect us all.
My own opinion is that life is precious. People have a right to not suffer. Parents have a right to care for their young. It’s at once very simple and extremely complicated.