Doctors want to remove boy’s life support without his parents’ consent

Doctors want to remove boy’s life support without his parents’ consent

The UK is once again debating brain death. Several high-profile disputes have existed between parents who want to keep their children alive in recent years and the National Health Service. Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans, and Pippa Knight are famous.

At the center of the final heartbreaking fight is 12-year-old Archie Battersbee. His mother found him unconscious in their home on April 7. He never recovered. His heart is beating, but doctors say he is brainstem dead and must be removed from the ventilator. His parents opposed this, but last week the Supreme Court agreed. Ms. Justice Arbuthnot concluded that Archie had passed away at noon on May 31.

London hospital takes boy off life support – DW – 08/06/2022

The doctors believe that Archie has irreversibly lost his breathing and consciousness. As far as they can determine, he’s brain-dead. And under UK law, brain death is legally slow, and treatment must be discontinued.

The parents plan to appeal, but bioethicist Dominic Wilkinson says they will not succeed, even if the case drags on in the courts for some time.

Click Like if you’re pro-life to like the LifeNews Facebook page!

An analysis by the Anscombe Bioethics Center offers a more skeptical perspective on this all-too-common and deeply painful dilemma.

Ethical, religious, and cultural attitudes strongly influence these kinds of decisions in the UK; these attitudes include a respect for the medical profession (“doctor know best”), an understatement of the role and rights of parents, and a prejudice that and minimally conscious patients are unable to derive any benefit from life.

The analysis revealed three weaknesses in the doctors’ arguments.

In the first place, it seems extraordinary that matters of life and death should be matters of a trade-off of probability rather than determination beyond reasonable doubt…

Second, this decision is troubling because the brainstem death tests outlined in the Code of practice were never completed. The standards of the Code did not establish death. The code judge based her decision not on best practice but on doctors’ opinion that it was “probable or very likely” that Archie was dead. However, what is “highly probable” is not certain, and one source of doubt is that Archie’s heart continues to beat…

[Third] Even more concerning is the fact that the judge thought it was in Archie’s best interest to stop the ventilator, even though he was in no pain and had indicated that he would like to receive life-prolonging treatment…

LifeNews Note: Michael Cook is the editor of BioEdge, where this story appeared.