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The pope’s role in the plight of Alfie Evans was regrettable

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guest-aanoaool

This is the result of Socialized medicine. The Pope had a hospital ready to look after Alfie in a humane way, but the British government decided to stick to their pride as always and rather take away the parental rights of Alfie's family and against the Italian and Polish governments' offers to fulfill Alfie's parent's wishes. Once again the British Government and their Socialized Health Care proves to be shameless obstructionist of the parent's wishes even though other expert help and entire hospital systems and governments awaited to offer a better and kinder health care for their citizens, and in this case even for the newly Italian little citizen.

guest-aanoaool

...the central issue in Alfie's case, but difficult by ERASMUS to understand, based on this article, is that it was not about medical procedures or medical advice that the supporters of Alfie were were most concern about, but the dignity of the person of Alfie, and the God's given parental rights of Alfie's parents to make a critical moral decision for Alfie. When a government or state can override the moral rights of parents for their children, this is for sure the end of humanity of free citizens in a democracy, where humanity is then taken away and made into a commodity.

sanmartinian

I am a complete ignoramus on the intricacies, be they scientific, moral, deontological, or otherwise of poor Alfie Evan's destiny.
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I humbly confess my complete inability to judge it.
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The only thing I dare say is that I am entirely in favour of a religion that no matter what favours life, not death.
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The fact that this religion is officially mine plays no part in my opinion. I would equally support Sun worshippers or unbelievers who favour life and oppose causing death.

ashbird in reply to sanmartinian

To @sanmartinian on the scientific, moral, deontological or otherwise,
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The most painful Q arises, and indeed it appears to be the Q raised by Alfie, is a Q that belongs to neither science, nor deontology, nor even moral. Perhaps to a religious faith, which, incidentally, is NOT the purview of scientists (they can leave the room as far as I am concerned as they have no business in the spiritual), hence doctors ought not play God, and indeed many doctors loathe to.
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The Q is when does life in the temporal and corporeal end and death begins? [In connection to this Q, TE has a couple of very fine articles in Printed Edition, I think last week and this week. Unfortunately, neither is opened for readers' comments]
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Or, some Easter philosophical thinkers will say : Does it matter?
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Personally, I believe that what Man knows, when they do (as an ophthalmologist knows how to fix a cornea, or a heart surgeon knows how to remove a washed-up heart and put a good one in), is about feet-on-ground things, and even then, compared with what needs to be known in order to know, is infinitesimally small. All pursuers of knowledge know the more they know, they more they know there is to be known which they don't know. Hence the present predicament of Alfie. Alfie couldn't talk for himself. We all try to guess what Alfie felt and thought, assuming Alfie is no longer with us. It is impossible to say who is 100% right who is 100% wrong. And nobody knows God's thoughts on this.
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Feet on ground again, I think Alfie's parents should receive spiritual and emotional support from anyone who has a heart.

Sorry t’ let th’ cat out o’ th’ bag, old chap…but didn’t I catch ye (ahem) “red”-handed?
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By George! It seems that portly minds must cross inevitably. Darn it, we had a near miss in a funny little village called Trier set in such misleadingly beautiful environs, where I was a-sleuthin’ the sausage-eater, who is so desperate to cover the falterings o’ his exports to his bankrupted euro zone that he has to pander to the Chinese, and with desperation by Jove, by honouring the village with a bronze statue made in China of their home boy wallah, the fat little Rumpelstilzchen Marx. Did I not, on my coincidental sleuthin’ mission, espy ye on an unportly pilgrimage perchance, old chap?
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Did ye not witness that princess o’ Mediocrity Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate, the Ms Malu Dreyer opening the address with the very worst dregs o’ typical saccharine cabbage-eatin’ balderdash with her chunderings about an eu-*blue* ray o’ light beamin’ out from Trier towards China where it turned *yellow* as it beamed down on Beijing?
Forsooth, the chunder-o-meter shot of th’ scale! Even the miderable sausage-eatin’ stonefaces started twitchin’!
Pausin’, t’ recover from her “visionary” chunder and noting that the silly hussy meant a “red” beam of light, rather giving our game away by alluding to it as our eu-“blue” light, I managed t’ take stock o’ th’ scene. It produced further stomach churnin’, unfortunately for her, in that it could not escape the portliness of your wise all seein’ Sammy owl that concurrent with her pathetic stab at visionary poetry, he noted that the entire event was marred by a mass of the “yellow” attired outlawed the Falun Gong movement all easily visible in front of Malu beaming loudly instant *yellow* rays of T shirts straight back at her, with huge banners to protest against their persecution, murder, and confiscation of body parts from live prisoners for scientific research. It was a gut-heavin’ event, by Tusk!
The pants-down sausage-eater export lobby was hopin’ t’ cover up the inconvenient ongoing human rights bun fight, wasn’t he, eh?
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So, did y’not see your fellow Port correspondent stealin’ away, grippin’ his Dehli-belly from the chunderings o’ this Ms Mediocrity-Dreyer apparition standin’ proud in front of her bronze gargoyle? (The wench owes her rapid progress in the SPD entirely to strategic horizontal activities….an’ vertical for urgent missions)….a candidate perfectly suited for presenting this bronze gargoyle of the fat little barrel-chested Rumpelstilzchen Trier wallah t’ the miserable cabbage-eatin’ media, but who certainly gave us the one glimmer of truth of his entire lifetime : he was bang-on in his assessment of the surly aborigines of that bizarre village, “das kleinste erbärmliche Nest voll von Klatsch und lächerlicher Lokalvergötterung”, what?
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As ever your,
Sammy da Horta de Lisboa e de São Martinho do Porto in urgent need of a dose o’ sea salts on his Atlantic estuary after witnessing a Monument to the miserable display of twisted sausage-eatin’ land-lubbery that the armpit of our EU can muster.

Dear ashbird
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As many other people, I hesitated for long periods whether I was religious and, more important, whether I wanted to be religious. As you say, this is part of the big Q: when do we die if indeed we die.
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After many experiences, my temperament reasserted itself, and I reached an efficient conclusion that made me happy for the rest of my life. We, people, know very little about what matters. The world, life and death, the universe, what on earth is our purpose and similar trivia.
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As we haven't the faintest idea about these matters, we invented religions or the total absence of them to plug the massive hole in our knowledge. It doesn't matter what religion or lack of belief you choose. They all serve the same purpose: to fill the void of our ignorance.
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Provided we pay their price which is a steep one. We cannot harm others or ourselves willingly. If we do, there goes our happiness which was contrived by the many systems we created to obviate our enormous ignorance about whatever our purpose and that of the Universe is.
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For centuries, we let billions of Alfie Evans die with some inevitable sadness but complete innocence and consequent internal peace. We didn't know how to avoid the harm done to them.
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But now we know and to let them die destroys our innocence.
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That's why saving the Alfies of this world matters. There are far more important things, I agree. But every small bit of non-innocent harm we let happen counts.

to Sammy da Horta de Lisboa e de São Martinho do Porto
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Ahm in bad shape, Ah am, luv!
Ah knew, Ah shoodn't have gwne to Manchister, Ah knoo. Aye!
'aven't been meslef, Ah 'aven't
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'ave let you without a proper replah for three messages, blwddy 'ell. Very ooncivil, old bloke, ver ooncivil of my. Aye!
Promise Ah'll do me best tomorrow to reply, mate, Ah prwmise.
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'n' to top it off Ah've sent a message tw ye tha' was intended fo' ashbird, a very civil lahdy. Aye. Sw she is, very civil, aye.
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Apologies, to bwth.

ashbird in reply to sanmartinian

Dear sanmartinian,
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Thank you so very very much for your reply to me. I treasure it. As with a couple of your other posts (one had to do with Portuguese history, the other economic theories), I have printed it out for a special album I have where I keep your and 2 other posters' writings, or rather, the thoughts in the writings, I value and respect. I like to read important things printed, an old habit that will not die.
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Everything you said is one level higher yet than the spirituality rung another poster by the penname @ Peace and I exchanged views on. Totally true, we all fill a "void" by this that and the other we make up, and, needly to say, the "void" could be filled only if we believe what we make up is right.
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And so life plugs on, and death, a concept, always awaits.
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My Q, one asked not from the heart, but from the data provided by medical science, regarding Alfie is this: the tubes kept him alive but he was brain dead. When the plug was pulled, he did die in 3 1/2 days. Supposing we keep the life support on, how long will the support sustain the status of Alfie before all signs of life cease? There was a case in America where a young woman was maintained on life support, similarly in a vegetative state. She was kept "alive" for years. Finally the decision was made by the family to "pull the plug", and she promptly died. Was the decision to keep her on life support for years the "right" thing to do, medically, ethically, morally and spiritually? Or not the right thing? Should anyone go to Hell or Heaven for a decision made either way? I honestly don't presume or profess to have an answer to that Q which none of us has because none of us is God. I do know what decision I'll make if I am in a medically determined vegetative state. I have instructed in my own healthcare power of attorney to instruct the doctors to pull the plug, for no other reason than to spare my loved ones from watching my dying process drawn out in slow motion. I love them as much as they love me; and for once, they should respect my choice without any guilt on their part.
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I have your other post to reply to yet about Stonehenge. Will get to it later when I have some time.

Jiang Tai Gong

In addition to my earlier comments:
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• "All medical advice, even from expert medical professionals, is not necessarily good medical advice." and
• “Let me rephrase my original comment... All medical advice from expert medical professionals, is not necessarily good medical advice. I've first-hand experience of this.”
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Some expert medical professionals can be very unaccepting, even to the extent of denying, when evidence arises that they were wrong. I've first-hand experience of this as well. Expert medical professionals are definitely not immune to having human faults & frailties like everyone else.

CA-Oxonian

If a railway inspector offered an opinion on quantum physics, or a baker opined on the question of moral hazard inherent in today's banking system, few would be interested and the international media would hardly bother to promulgate their thoughts. Yet when a professional virgin with no expertise whatsoever in any relevant field of human endeavor opines on any topic, the press fall over themselves to give prominence to his utterances.
This is, to say the least, a rather curious state of affairs. Perhaps our citizens would be better served by a press that was more interested in facts than opinions. Sadly, however, the press knows all too well that tales appealing to emotion and prejudice triumph over mere thinking; thus they have no interest in stories that are insufficiently close to reality TV-style entertainment because the public cares not for such cerebral matters. We get what we want, and what we apparently want is uninformed nonsense.
We can also note that the question of cost can be nicely avoided. If a vegetative-state child is kept alive, this means funds are unavailable for treating others who could be cured. That would be a difficult topic, so the press (and the Pope) simply avoids it entirely. Thus the matter is black-and-white, life-or-death. In reality of course the topic is extremely difficult and nuanced. Which is why the public would not be interested in it. So instead we get theatre. What next? The Pope gets his own Netflix movie or YouTube channel? No doubt the ad revenue would be gratifying for all concerned.

LexHumana in reply to CA-Oxonian

I would posit that the Pope is indeed a subject matter expert on at least one relevant field of human endeavor: morality. Unfortunately, in a growing secular and relativistic world, the subject of morality is an uncomfortable one that people prefer to bypass and instead focus on "hard facts", which tend to reduce individuals into mere objects that can be quantified with dollars and cents, or rates of return.
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More to the point at hand, this issue is also a legal one, and there are different legal paradigms that can be applied that lead to different outcomes. In the United States for example, the federal government and federal courts would have no authority to make such decisions against the wishes of the parents, and even most state governments would be highly deferential to the wishes of the parents.
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Suppose there was an adult patient with an aggressive terminal illness who wanted to devote his or her private resources to seeking ways to cure their affliction, even if all available medical experts claim that such an effort is futile? Should the government somehow intervene in this personal choice? Here in America, the answer would be no. I see no difference in a guardian of a child making the exact same personal choice. There was no indication that Alfie was suffering or in any pain as the result of being kept on a ventilator, so the "interest of the child" metric does not mandate any sort of intervention to prevent needless physical "suffering". Similarly, a 23 month old in a semi-vegetative state is not likely suffering any psychological trauma (in fact, it is likely he was completely unaware of it all). Finally, the medical community was absolutely convinced that Alfie would die shortly, so there really isn't a risk of future suffering (given that the government and medical community believed he had no expectation of a future).
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Without any real evidence of harm, or any real evidence of the parents being abusive with their desire for care, this case really was just about "putting him out of his misery", the way we would euthanize a dog or a cat. If a patient had made this choice for himself or herself (whether to seek other treatment or to cease treatment and die), I would respect such a decision regardless of whether I agreed with it. My concern is that it was the state making this decision, and not the patient or his guardians, and more disturbingly was making the decision AGAINST their wishes because the STATE KNOWS BETTER. I have seen the green shoots of fascism spring from such a mindset.

LexHumana in reply to Polar_Bear

There are a lot of undefined ambiguities in your sentence. What do you mean by "speculates on the scientific", and "right", and by "experts"? I don't recall seeing the Pope make any sort of scientific speculation -- his comments were strictly in the moral realm. Likewise, what is "right"? Morally right? Medically right? Legally right? Those three concepts are not the same, and don't necessarily intersect each other. Finally, what "experts" are you referring to? Scientific or medical ones? Why would a scientist or doctor be any more qualified to opine on a moral or legal matter? The simple answer is they aren't -- a scientist can be correct on the science, and fail miserably on the moral or legal question.

Tom Meadowcroft

Professionals should give expert advice, not make decisions. Both society and doctors are better off if we don't ask doctors to play God. When the patient is unable to decide, and does not have a living will, the guardian is the best (though far from perfect) choice to be making decisions. Doctors and lawyers should determine when the state will no longer pay for treatment, but if the guardian wants custody for the purpose of more treatment at that point, the guardian's will should override the experts. Yes, there is a danger of parents subjecting terminally ill children to agonizing treatment, but the bar should be much higher before the state pre-empts the parents right to make decisions about their children; the presumption should be that the parents are acting in the best interests of the child. The UK does not allow the state to have the power of life and death over murderers or rapists (no death penalty). Why is the state given the power of life and death over patients when there are guardians present? The liberal thing to do is for the state to make medical decisions only when there is no responsible individual left to make them.

ashbird in reply to Tom Meadowcroft

May I compliment you on a very good post?
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Indeed, doctors ought not play God.
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Indeed, most doctors loathe playing God, even when some patients would beg them to. Current medical ethics subscribe to and support the notion that the decision to die (physician-assisted dying) , to live (to seek treatment after treatment, including volunteering to be subjects in clinical trials not yet approved by FDA), to "just let things be and see how it goes" (Steve Jobs' choice) all lie in the hands of the patient, not anyone outside the patient.
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If the patient is in a coma and there was a healthcare power of attorney written while patient was alive, then the persons designated in the legal document to be the decision-maker(s) will make the decision .
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You are again right the parents of 23-month old Alfie, being his legal guardians (obviously, because Alfie couldn't speak for himself) are the 2 people who have the decision-making power.
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I think the issue in the case is: How credible, medically speaking, was Alfie's treatment team in Liverpool Hospital, England.
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Perhaps the best source to reach a more informed and concrete, instead of speculative, answer to that Q is the treatment records of Alfie, from day of diagnosis to day he died. . Perhaps also the career reputation of each and every single one of the folks who were in the treatment team ought to be looked at, since the material is quite relevant. Obviously, if the head of the treatment team, and/or any one else in it, has or have a string of malpractice lawsuits treating babies with the same medical condition as Alfie, that would raise serious doubts on the fitness to practice of the entire team. The article does not provide any information on this Q.
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LexHumana in reply to Tom Meadowcroft

Excellent point, and you have identified the true issue here. It is not about the medical evidence at all. Who cares whether Alfie's medical prognosis was terminal? Why should the government care? If the parents wanted to explore every last possibility (at private expense), to convince themselves that they had truly tried everything to save their child, why would anyone deliberately obstruct them? Moreover, suppose they had wanted to move Alfie to a private hospice so that he could die in their care? My understanding is that the hospital was blocking any attempt to move the patient elsewhere.
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This isn't a case about health care. This is a case about who gets to make personal decisions for a child -- the government, or the parents. It also disturbs me that the government would be largely prohibited from interfering with a parent's abortion decision, but once a child is born the government feels empowered to make a death decision against the parent's wishes. I fear for civilization when we live in a world where the government's primary interest in balancing its rights against the individual's rights is tilted in favor of facilitating death, rather than life.

oca250

It is stunning that a newspaper like TE which purports to be on the side of individual liberty unless given good reason otherwise, would opt to have the state circumscribe treatment options for sick children, just because available medical evidence is not supportive of that treatment.
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Like other positions such a pro-euthanasia, pro-drug legalization, it is up to people and individuals to wise up about what is and is against their own interests. The state should not be deciding for them.

Simon Hibbs in reply to oca250

On what basis should treatment be decided, if not medical evidence? The doctors at the hospital were legally and ethically responsible for his treatment and they made the decisions, not the government. Even the legal decision on points of law made in court was made by an independent judge, not the government. In fact the government played no significant role in any of these decisions.

guest-nsajels in reply to Simon Hibbs

@Simon Hibbsin: Medical evidence does not necessarily reflects reality. The doctor at this hospital provided evidence to the court that Alfie is not able to sustain his life without artificial lung ventilation. Contrary to the predictions of these medical "experts" on whom the court relied, Alfie continued to breathe and fight for his life in the absence of artificial ventilation for more than four days until he passed away. How can you or other supporters of hospital/government justify such false prediction that is classified as "medical evidence"?

gGQBfnCAym in reply to Simon Hibbs

He used the word state, not the government. Both the courts and the NHS are part of the state. I have some sympathy for Oca250's point of view here - it would have done no harm to accede to the wishes of the parents and fly the patient to Rome.
That's not to say that I think parent's wishes should be paramount in all cases or that even the UK's system of giving courts the final say in these matters needs to be reformed. But I do think that there should be a bit of flexibility in interpretation of rules and this case is one of them.

gGQBfnCAym in reply to guest-nsajels

They didn't say he would die straight away but that in fact it could take a few days, which is what occurred. I have said elsewhere that I think in this instance, the parents' wishes should have been been accepted but that doesn't mean I think the doctors had it wrong. The consensus about the boys's condition was overwhelming. Here's a link to what doctors actually said about the ventilation issue so we can put this nonsense that the docs somehow got this wrong well and truly to bed
https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/what-doctors-actuall...

guest-nsajels in reply to gGQBfnCAym

I totally disagree. Medical "experts" anticipated early death and prepared plan for that. Baby bay was denied nutrition for 28 hours and after family's intervention he was fed. Yes, after 1.5 years of absence of right diagnosis and treatment, Alfie's situation deteriorated and brain damage was significant. The problem is that NHS decides whether the life of the baby justifies its costs or not. Alder Hey says he was unresponsive to possible treatments. How irresponsible is this statement. If there is no diagnosis, of course he will not respond to the treatment/medications as right treatment plan and right medications are not indicated. Doing DNA analysis is costly, and one test is done at a time and in takes few weeks to wait for the result of one test before prescribing next one.
I remember former PM David Cameron's interview, where he talks about neurological disorder of his first son Ivan and how it was stressful to wait for multiple tests until right treatment plan could be made for his son. But Cameron was PM and NHS did their best through extensive tests to find out the cause of epileptic seizures was Ohtahara syndrome. Regretfully in Alfie's case, NHS gave up soon and instead of doing further investigation/ DNA tests decided to switch off his life support long before Alfie's latest brain scan showing 30% white matter left in the brain. Considering progression of the disease and unavailability of right treatment for Alfie during the lengthy legal battle, you can imagine Alfie was not a dying baby before the legal battle started. At least, his brave parents could give several months more life. It is very easy for some people to talk above throat as they think the Alfie's case is just something not related to them. No one is insured. You or your close relative might in the place of Alfie's parents tomorrow and I highly doubt you will be on the side of NHS/hospital then.

LexHumana in reply to Simon Hibbs

Two points:
First, the courts are part of "the government".
Second, death is not a "treatment." If it were, you could successfully "treat" 100% of illnesses 100% of the time with euthanasia. Death is a consequence.
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If a hospital does not wish to treat a patient because it is too costly or is deemed wasteful of scarce resources, then I can't fault a hospital for refusing actual "treatment". But that should not serve as a bar to the patient to allow him or her to seek treatment elsewhere. If a terminally ill adult wished to travel abroad to seek experimental treatment overseas, why would the government seek to deny him or her that option merely because they would not want to pay for it themselves? By extension, the parents of a child sit as the guardian of that child and make decisions for that child, just as they would make adult decisions for themselves.
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This case has nothing to do with "medical evidence." It is about WHO gets to make personal decisions for patients. I vote in favor of the individual versus the government every time.

guest-nsajels

This article is such a shame for the Economist!!! Even after several months after the hospital decided to switch off the life support, Alfie was able to breath independently. The hospital wanted him to die early to justify their wrong-doings, did not give food for 28 hours(!) but brave Alfie proved them wrong.
It seems his brain stem was fine and could control basic functions like breathing, heart rate, etc. The fact that medical "experts" could not diagnose Alfie's disease says enough about limits of current state of medical science. He was not totally brain dead and suffocating or starving to death such patients with functioning brain stem is nothing else than "legitimate" murder.
I regret such a controversial opinion appeared in the Economist. What a disgrace and shame.

guest-ajiijwsn

I totally disagree with the headline and the content. After all if the Pope with a capital P is not infalible and holds only a límited sway over human affairs, then Alfie’s parents have acted based on their best criteria. This opinion article is a sore reminder of the historically complex relationship Brits have had with Rome’s authority.

ashbird

I have held high esteem for Pope Francis. This incident is truly unfortunate and regrettable.

ashbird in reply to ashbird

Post button cut off the rest of my post. Here's the complete one -
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I have held the highest esteem for Pope Francis. I defended him on many occasions when folks who are neither Catholic nor Christian attacked him regarding the position he takes on many controversial social issues.
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It is truly regrettable he involved himself in the manner he did in this Alfie saga.
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Perhaps the Pope should be cognizant of ONE THING - On this Earth, the law of the State has jurisdiction over all human affairs (which include clergy sexual molestation of boys prosecutable under Statutory Rape). His jurisdiction is somewhere else.

Swiss Reader in reply to ashbird

ashbird, I think the case is somewhat peculiar, and Pope Francis has at least some arguments on his side.
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For me personally, I have made a living will and my next of kind all know that I would prefer to die rather than remain stuck hopelessly in a vegetative state. That's my free will and I am confident it will be respected; Swiss law allows it.
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But if the patient in question is a small child and his parents are both very strongly in favour of maintaining life support, things look different. Overriding the parents' wishes in such a case is something I wouldn't like to do, much less enforcing the decision in a court case. The Pope isn't infallible, but neither are doctors.

oca250 in reply to ashbird

This is not a dispute between religious authority and state authority but on whether state laws should have power over individual choices, even if those individual choices led to more misfortune and suffering. It is also not necessarily a debate between democratic lawmaking and its right to circumscribe individual choices, but whether the people should support such laws in the first place.

ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

Yes, Swiss Reader. I give you full attention.
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[I have the same living will. The law in the state in US where I live also allows it. The same law also mandates compliance with the terms of the living will. Re disconnection of life support, the medical decision is not easily or nilly-willy made. The healthcare power of attorney in the living will delineates 4 separate and different categories of "state of unconsciousness". The will has to specify which one of the 4 the testator means. After that, life support is only pulled by the joint signature of 2 physicans.]
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Re the parents' wishes, balancing their wishes and the child's attending physicians' evaluation of the child's chances of survival, I would personally put more weight on the attending physicians' evaluation. NOT the Pope's. The Pope's role in the scenario is the parents' fragile feelings in a most delicate predicament for any parent. But his medical knowledge, shall we say, ought not override the physicians'. Obviously I speak with a strong bias. The bias is no different from an engineer's calculation of how much force a bridge could withstand before it breaks (say the force of an earthquake, which happened with a bridge in Tacoma, Washington. The engineer was right. The public works dept was wrong. The bridge collapsed as calculated).
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If I were Pope, which needless to say I am not, I would focus on the tender feelings of the parents, as a shepard of the Catholic faith rather than force out this drama where, in the final analysis, the sufferer was the child, not anyone else. The medical Q there is even were the child kept on life support for longer, what life expectancy would he have with a severely diseased brain as the medical facts showed?
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Lastly, people on life support don't generally die on cue the second the plug is unplugged. They linger for a good bit from hours to days. It is very hard for loved ones to watch. Of course here we encounter the even harder Q: When does death arrive? Heart stops? Brain stops? Either one or both? We don't really have the ultimate answer to that ultimate Q. Neither does the Pope.
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The "busybody" I referred to was not the Pope. It was the missionary from America who flew all the way to Liverpool to "intervene", making the whole situation even harder for Alfie's parents. This is my opinion.
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ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

SR, Please do let me know if your thoughts are different after reading my reply. I value your thinking and your ethical and moral yardstick. It's very late where I am. If you reply, it will be at least 20 hours from timestamp of this post before I retrieve your reply and respond.

Swiss Reader in reply to ashbird

ashbird, thanks for your good opinion of me, but I really haven't got a perfect answer. There are good arguments for both sides.
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1. In favour of ending life support:
- A two year old child is in deep coma, and according to all medical experts involved has no hope to recover. Further life-preserving measures may only prolong suffering.
- Resources are finite. Staff, machinery and money required to the useless purpose of keeping a semi-dead person alive will lack for more urgent needs; so waiting times for other cases will increase, causing more suffering and death.
- The doctors involved know the facts best. They have presumably weighed the arguments carefully and responsibly, and come to the conclusion that further life support would not be appropriate.
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2. In favour of continuing life support:
- According to all legal systems I know, parents are entitled and required to speak for their infant children, as long as those are too young and unable to have an informed will of their own.
- Now the parents of the sick child are strongly in favour of continuing life-preserving measures. They could decide to buy or sell assets for their child; shouldn't their voice also prevail when life and death are involved?
- Finally, doctors have erred in the past and may be wrong again in their negative assessment of the child's chances. It's an outside chance of course, but not fully impossible.
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All I can say is that I am happy I don't have to take the responsibility either way.

ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

Swiss Reader,
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Thanks for the prompt response. I found a moment to reply.
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Sure. A most balanced way of looking at the situation, without hauling in a warehouse of politicized gobbledegook (I confess I have a lot of aversion, and zero time, for that type of stuff). Thank you doubly for that.
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Re "In Favor of ending LS", I personally frown on the finite resource argument. I don't see that the Alfie case presented a situation of triage, where 20 soldiers on a battlefield with mortal wounds have to make way for 20 others who could be saved, with a known quantity of penicillin available for the clinic where triage is done. Also, A 23-month baby takes up very little room in a hospital, compared with a 6 ft adult in the same vegetative state.
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Re "In favor of continuing LS because ‘doctors could be wrong', my answer is: Of course! Doctors make errors, not quite all the time, but not infrequently either. That's why in grey area cases the notion of "Second Opinion" comes in. "Second Opinion" means another team, a different team of qualified physicians come in to evaluable the patient and render their opinion. The evaluation at all times is based on an actual look at the patient, and bloodwork, scans, MRI, fMRI where pertinent, i.e., every single piece of relevant medical data available which directly pertains to the patient. The data is scrutinized, discussed among peers, before a judgment on prognosis is rendered. This is a laborious process. It requires evaluators who are experienced specialist to the specific disease, who know what they are doing. What this means is an administrator of spiritual needs and provider of spiritual and emotional support, which is what a priest, or Pope, is is not qualified to do, as a matter of real life happenings and as a matter real life responsibility and accountability, the failure of which is ground for professional malpractice. Not a priest's work unless the priest also happens to be a fully trained, experience physician, in this case a pediatric neurologist.
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If a person, any person, has any sense of responsibility at all, not being a physician and specialist which is what the determination of Alfie's status was, the person should refrain from the rendering of gobbledegook, ad nauseam. Any person is free to pray himself to health. That freedom pertains to his own health, not someone else's. Falling short of an understanding this fundamental rule on who does what for whom, the person is doing a dasdardy deed known as "officious intermeddling". Don't, maybe Heaven is where this sort of people go to, as least they say so.
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Some other readers had a Q re privacy breach and the application of the HIPPA law. The birth parents, as legal guardians of a 23-month old infant, most certainly are the parties to provide the requisite Release from the governance of HIPPA to the extent of the specific people or persons named in a written Release.

ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

Hi Swiss Reader,
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I read my earlier reply to you again, one written in quite a rush.
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In the event I left anything unclear, please take a moment to read my reply to commenter @Meadowcroft above. There I spelled out some key details which I had left out in my earlier reply to you. . Hope that post will serve to dot all the 'i's and cross all the 't's. Meadowcroft wrote a very thoughtful post indeed.
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It is important to note that not a word was said or insinuated by me to the effect that that doctors are infallible or doctors ought to "play God". What I said was entirely to the contrary.
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A couple of frequent flyer bull-hide lanterns insist on manufacturing that straw man for an argument so they they could argue incessantly about "because doctors are fallible - based on a one time "personal experience" no less, ergo the correct and ethically responsible replacement of fallible doctors is the Pope, or indeed they, for these folks claim they know everything about everything by not knowing anything about anything.
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Just for the record. Erasmus is getting to be a stranger and stranger place.
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I take the time to clarify this point because reckless ignorance has hurt more people in this world than we reckon. I deal with this in my work on a daily basis.
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No need to reply to this post. As I said, for Erasmus' archive only.

ashbird

I agree with Erasmus' perspective and conclusion. 100%
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The mind of a Pope is not infallible. After all, he is human, not God.
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If God is omniscient, he would know what Alfie's pediatrician and pediatric neurologist knew, and what the pediatric nurses and intensive-care nurses in Alfie's treatment team knew. God would know all that.
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These blood-hound busy-bodies stuck their noses into a matter that is none of their business, but a matter strictly between Alfie, a 23- month old infant, and his parents, by law . In US, the HIPPA laws spell out the clear boundaries of Patient Privacy Laws. I am sure in UK, similar laws exist.
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Invasion of Privacy is an actionable tort. In Alfie, the manner the privacy was invaded amounted to gross and aggravated negligence. Arguably it is criminal.
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Like blood-hounds smelling blood, these busy-bodies latched on the parent's misfortune and the Alfie's medical condition in a potentially headline-grabbing case just to obtain their 3-minute fame. What irresponsible scums!
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The judge (in Erasmus' report) called them "fanatical and deluded"". I'd call them Scourge of the Earth.
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These are the same folks who tell you they have a guaranteed ticket to Heaven. Scourge of the Earth.
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oca250 in reply to ashbird

How can you regulate privacy between individuals and their physicians, but then not regulate invasions of privacy into other consensual relations that individuals establish between each other?

blue asgard in reply to ashbird

It seems fairly obvious that opportunists of the worst kind were exploiting the grief of the parents and their readiness to grasp the slightest fig-leaf of hope. I think you are too kind to these people as it is likely that their motivations weren't necessarily religious or misguided, but deliberate, politically-motivated and evil. This is the Devil's work, not God's
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Consider this quote from the article:
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"..the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), a lobby group which opposes abortion and gay rights, and the judge had harsh words for the group’s representative, a Russian-born writer called Pavel Stroilov, accusing him of drafting a witness statement that was “full of vituperation and bile”.
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Indeed. And if his organisation was supported by the Kremlin for the express purpose for sowing dissent and discord in western society would he have acted any differently? Similarly if the Kremlin's army of Russian trolls spotted an opportunity to forment dissent and disorder over this issue would they not be here making the kinds of comment which promote precisely that? Either they don't exist (and there's lots of evidence that they do) or they are here, for all to see. Treason's greetings, comrades.
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The Kremlin has long realised that these long-term objectives can be promoted, if not achieved, through religious groups (e.g. the Orthodox and fellow-travelling churches inside and outside Russia) and unofficial actors who have political clout, like trade unions (UK 1970s and 1980s), the IRA (prior to 1991 - the good Friday agreement was only possible after the Soviet Union collapsed), and the NRA in America (now under investigation after claims of Russian financial support to the NRA breaching US political funding laws, not to mention laws about external interference). You probably think I have a bee in my bonnet about this but if you connect the dots, as they used to say here, a pattern emerges we'd be ill advised to ignore. A pattern which has been sensed already over the UK referendum, the 2016 US election, and now, one gathers, the recent 2017 UK election as well. Meanwhile other commentary on this topic needs to be viewed through this particular lens. Just sniff out that sulphurous whiff of evil and discord.

ashbird in reply to blue asgard

Hahahaha, @blue, in response to your Apr 30th, 10:59 reply to me, I am not "too kind" to them.
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Since their utter idiocy in "Proud to be ignorant" speaks so cruelly for themselves, I thought it is best to let them speak for themselves.
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These sanctimonious, willfully stupid, pridefully ignorant folks, nearly complete illiterate in every field of knowledge, and yes, opportunists in many instances - you are 100% correct on that point - really speak for themselves.
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There is no need to say anything further in that regard. Their thesis is they have one experience, and the rest of the entire world MUST have that same experience. This is what an advanced Axis II, possibly co-morbid with Axis I (you know all that) is about. Wherever they are, bad news follow. Yes! They are 100% Evil. And ignorance is no excuse. Because their ignorance is entirely voluntary and willful. In nearly 100% of the cases, these folks either REALLY can't read or PRETEND they can't read. Your classic evil-doer in sheep's clothing.
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TE is an open public forum. They have the same first amendment right to speak. Every time they do, they convince more sane people they are certifiable!! And at least between you and me, sane people in the world vastly outnumber the certifiables (Axis I and Axis II). Trust me! The ratio is roughly 1: 1000. :) By now, I see their penname, I pass. . And they do recommend their own posts which has not one itoa of fact and substance it them. Truly pathetic souls.

ashbird in reply to blue asgard

One more point between you and me, @blue. [Actually I already stated this in stark black and white, but the pretend can't read, as usual, can't read or pretend can't read. ] Of course, doctors are not God, nor do they or should they play God!! Unless the doctor in question too is a bit of an Axis II character (not likely Axis I since the hallmark symptoms of Axis I are Hallucination (auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile, and taste) and DELUSION, hard to maintain a practice with those symptoms.
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The problem is there are crummy doctors, just like there are crummy anything. For example, in Catholic Clerics, the crummies rape their choir boys and their acts are tacitly condoned by the Church which keeps re-assigning them from one parish to the next, sometimes across continents (!!); in business, there are crooks like Madoff; in law, there are ones who'd lie for Trump and attempt to cover up Trump's lies by paying hush $; in accountancy, there are accountants who help clients cheat, in publishing, there are slimes who write nothing but smut, in journalism, there are full time manufacturer of fake news (not unintentional slip in due diligence, we are talking intentional work disseminated with the sole purpose to deceive), etc. etc. etc. etc.
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I have named above the actual presence of crummy professionals in every field of professional practice. The list is not exhaustive. For example, there are plumbers who fix one thing and break another, house-painters who paint over brass railings, housemaids who steal, etc. etc. etc.
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The point here under this Erasmus topic, is , these deliberately stupid religious people can't tell a competent professional and a crummy one even if you line up the two side by side. Because they are so stupid plus they make no effort to learn anything, i.e.c, they are voluntarily and willfully ill-informed consumer of everything under the sun, they end up going to the crummiest folks in every profession and end up being cheated. Their fault? I'd say 50%.
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And now they say all doctors are crooks. Just as you get the politician you voted for, the same principle applies - you get the crummy doctor you choose.
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You choose the crummies because you are stupid. So who is to blame in the predicament? God? NO. All doctors? All lawyers? NO. The right answer is YOURSELF. In my life time, I have encountered a couple of quacks in the medical profession, as well as the legal profession. Truly odious ones. AS well as the crummiest religious people, priest and preachers whose bottom aim is to move money from your pocket to theirs. So whose fault is it to stick with them????? For every service a consumer consumes, the burden of distinguishing a quack and a cracker-jack is on the consumer, as unfair as the system seems. But the fact is no one ever forces anyone to be stupid. Being stupid is a self-imposed and self-enforced activity. Remember? That's freedom in a nutshell.

PamSkeen

Dear Liberal Progressive Democrats that write for the biased "The Economist":
You worship government. You gladly submit yourself to government dictate.
Please allow me explain to you what freedom looks like.
I should be free to parachute out of an airplane for entertainment (even though this makes no sense)
This child's parents should be free to pursue unrealistic healthcare for their child even if the odds of success are slim (as long as you and I are not forced to pay for it...which was the case with the Pope's offer)
American's should be free (2nd amendment) to defend themselves rather than submit to government for protection
Everyone should be free to keep most of the fruits of their own labor (lower taxes)
The UK should not be slave to the EU
Everyone should be free to produce their own food, shelter, heating, water (less business regulation)
All parents should have the right to free school choice
And those young pimple faced kids that write for "The Economist"...yes...you...you too should be free to continue to write your Liberal Progressive Democrat radical Leftist government worshiping nonsense.

guest-osewnaa

In my perspective parents should have had the right to decide over taking their offspring to another hospital or country. I do not know if the little child would suffer more or not. I do not comprehend that how the court decide what will be the best interest of someone.
These are hard ethical dilemmas that do not have one correct answer.

sikko6

I think pope should be impeached for supporting Su Kyi's genocide & ethnic cleansing Burmese regime. This alone more than sufficient for impeachment.

homocidalmaniac

Did the Pope use the episode to help quell the unhappiness over his approach toward the victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church on his recent visit to Chile?

McGenius

The judges made the decision that Alfie must suffocate or starve to death in a British hospital and that nobody was going to be allowed to prevent that. They literally put up an armed guard in order to prevent that, i.e. threatened the parents with physical violence if they attempted to intervene. There’s not a lot of daylight between that decision and one a Nazi judge would come up with.

homocidalmaniac in reply to McGenius

I am sorry McGenius but you assertion equating the judges decision with Nazi tactics is completely out of line. Most deaths in the natural world terminate in suffocation and starvation. That is the natural end result of a body dying. Sometimes immediate but mostly a long and painful suffering, extended by medical interventions, which often only prolong the suffering, the suffocation, the starvation and the misery of ALL concerned.
If you are unable to add to the discussion, then maybe you should hold your breath and not comment?

McGenius in reply to homocidalmaniac

it is natural for parents to become hysterical when their offspring is starving or suffocating to death. Apparently when it comes to someone else’s children English judges can be quite the opposite, rather cold and callous.

No, deaths in the natural world don’t terminate with someone in a hospital bed with armed guards preventing that person from being helped. Deaths in which armed force is used to prevent others from assisting the dying is associated with manslaughter.

Jiang Tai Gong

All medical advice, even from expert medical professionals, is not necessarily good medical advice.