On the same day that a High Court in the United Kingdom ruled 23-month-old Alfie Evans must be taken off of life support, the country of Italy did a surprising and unprecedented thing — it gave the comatose toddler citizenship.
Now, the country says it will file a murder claim against officials in the United Kingdom if Evans isn’t released to Rome for treatment.
For those of you who haven’t been following the heartbreaking saga, here are the basics: Evans has been in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder which requires him to be on a ventilator.
In a move with shades of the Charlie Gard case, medical officials in the U.K.’s socialized health care system decided they wanted to pull the child’s life support without the permission of the parents, Tom Evans and Katie James.
On the same day that the High Court ruled that Evans didn’t have a case and hospital administrators could pull his life support — and with 200 angry protesters outside of the hospital — Italy announced it had made Evans a citizen.
“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 the Foreign Affairs Ministry read.
The Italian government hopes that Alfie Evans can quickly be transferred to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, an institution run by the Vatican. And if the United Kingdom tries to block the move, things could get very ugly very fast.
“If you remove the ventilator from Alfie Evans, we will file a complaint against you for the murder of an Italian citizen,” a statement from the Italian Embassy in London read, according to Matteo Matzuzzi, a Rome-based journalist for Italian newspaper, Il Foglio.
Ambasciata d'Italia in Gran Bretagna: "Fermare la procedura di sospensione della ventilazione ad Alfie Evans o partirà la denuncia per omicidio di un cittadino italiano" https://t.co/bqYXHSC28K
— Matteo Matzuzzi (@matteomatzuzzi) April 23, 2018
WOW. Italian Embassy in London: “If you remove the ventilator from Alfie Evans, we will file a complaint against you for the murder of an Italian citizen.” https://t.co/11UGLbhy5h
— Mahound's Paradise (@MahoundParadise) April 23, 2018
As the BBC reported Monday, Alder Hey hospital “has argued that keeping him on a ventilator is not in ‘his best interests’ and any further treatment was not only ‘futile’ but also ‘unkind and inhumane.'”
The U.K. seems to have become the arbiter of who lives and who dies when it comes to young children, what with the Alfie Evans case and the Charlie Gard debacle.
While one understands there are complex bioethical issues at stake here, the fact that these children are essentially being left to die against the will of their parents should be a chilling portent of where socialized medicine is going.
When Charlie Gard died, there were plenty of people who were willing to stand up and say it was murder. None of them, however, were internationally-recognized states. Italy is, and that changes everything.
Now, the United Kingdom and the people at the NHS have to decide whether they want to end the life of a citizen of another country — and risk getting into an unprecedented international legal battle.
In the meantime, the Italians have just become heroes to people all over the world who believe that a child’s life has inherent value and that the wishes of the parents should be respected. At least there are some people left in Europe who believe in the dignity of the human being.
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