Alfie Evans, the British child whose controversial case has drawn eyes from around the globe, has been given citizenship by the Italian government so that he can “immediately” get treatment in Rome, Italy’s The Local reports.
The move came on the same day in which a U.K. court insisted that the 23-month-old child’s life support be shut off.
Now, Evans’ parents want him to be transferred to the Vatican-administered Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome.
“Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Interior Minister Marco Minniti have granted citizenship to little Alfie. The Italian government hopes that being Italian will allow the immediate transfer of the child to Italy,” a statement from Italy’s Foreign Affairs Ministry read.
Evans suffers from a rare neurological condition and has been in a coma for over a year; he requires a ventilator to keep him breathing.
On Monday, a judge ruled that he can be taken off life support at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the Liverpool hospital where he is currently. The director of Bambino Gesu, Mariella Enoc, tried to visit Evans with an anesthesiologist from the hospital but was turned away.
The case has attracted the attention of the pope, who has called for Evans’ life to be spared.
“I want to reiterate and strongly confirm that the only master of life, from the beginning to its natural end, is God, and our duty is to do everything to protect life,” Pope Francis said.
Evans’ father even met with the pope at the Vatican and pleaded with him to help save his son’s life, saying that “every sick person may always be respected in their dignity and cared for in an appropriate way for their condition… and with great respect for life.”
It’s unclear what will happen now. A High Court judge seemed to deliver a massive blow to parents Tom Evans and Kate James on Monday when he refused them more time for an appeal, meaning hospital staff could pull the child off of life support. A bid to have the European Court of Human Rights take a look at the case was also rejected.
However, the case has mobilized right-to-life activists, with over 200 people showing up at Alder Hey Hospital to protest the decision to remove Alfie from life support.
This is the second time that England’s NHS has gone to war with the parents of a supposedly terminally-ill child over whether or not they can keep the child alive, even if they come up with the money to pay for it.
In the summer of 2017, Charlie Gard made international headlines when English medical officials decided to pull life support on the toddler who was also suffering from a neurological condition.
Even though doctors in America offered to treat the child, the English said no and Gard eventually died after being pulled from life support.
Italy, however, has taken a much different tack — they’ve made Evans a citizen, and that makes it a lot harder for the NHS to just pull the plug.
Snide commentators often lump Italy in with what they like to call the European Union’s “PIGS” — Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, the four countries that are among the most penurious and politically backward in the union.
Say what you will about that characterization, Italy just made a bold move to affirm the value of of human life in the face of the United Kingdom, a country which has again decided when a human being should die.
By offering citizenship to a 23-month-old child who was going to be allowed to die by doctors, Italy has proven itself far more civilized than individuals in the British medical and court systems. And, of all people, it was Pope Francis who led the charge. Bravo, Italia.
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