The West and the dignity of life
"I am praying for Alfie, for his family and for all who are involved" – these are the words of Pope Francis, which reflect how millions of people have been touched by the heartbreaking story of Alfie Evans, a toddler on life support who has been at the center of an ugly legal battle among his parents, the British National Health Service, and the British judicial system. The story of little Alfie has seen his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, go to great lengths to keep their son alive, a huge testament of parental love and devotion. However, doctors and the courts have determined that Alfie could not be saved and that it was futile to continue treatment. Probably many would react in shock and horror that this could happen in our society, but it's just a reflection on how the West has lost all respect for life.
Alfie Evans was born on May 9, 2016 in a sort of semi-vegetative state and is suffering from a degenerative neurological condition. Doctors told the parents that the child was not going to make it; Alfie fought back and started breathing on his own. But he caught another chest infection and was forced to use a ventilator. Doctors advised his parents to end the mechanical ventilation, as he was not getting better, and it was inhumane to keep him alive. Alfie's parents, like any parent, went to the courts to stop the hospital from removing the ventilator. They also went to Pope Francis so that he might lobby for this child. The court decision went against the parents. Extraordinarily, the Italian government gave Alfie citizenship and logged a diplomatic protest. Alfie again started breathing on his own. At the time of writing, it is still uncertain whether the efforts to save Alfie will succeed; it's nevertheless a damning picture of the state of the West.
UPDATE: Alfie Evans died early this morning, April 28, 2018.
Alfie's fight to live is a reminder of love and human dignity but weighted by the actions in this case and the policies being adopted, it's clear that Western society could not care less for life. As every year passes and we listen to the statistics of mass infanticide promoted by abortion-supporters along with the steady campaign to legalize euthanasia, the value of life is becoming meaningless.
One of the most worrying examples of the devaluation of life is the growing adoption of euthanasia legislation in the West, particularly in the Netherlands. According to statistics, almost 5% of deaths in the Dutch Kingdom are attributed to assisted suicide, a shocking number. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, many of the people requesting euthanasia do so for psychiatric reasons – for example, loneliness. Many Western countries like the Netherlands have problems dealing with psychiatric problems, elderly social isolation, etc. What is to stop a person going to a doctor trying to get him sign off on an assisted suicide without given them the choice of a proper care that may save a life.
This growth of euthanasia seems to me to be a case of mistaken mercy leading to a dangerous slippery slope of a complete loss of the value of life. Have we as a society such little respect for the life of a human being that we are willing to renege on our responsibilities for each other, the disabled, and the terminally ill, to simply allow them to take their own lives?
Society wants to determine who is unworthy of living, which is why many don't say a word about abortion. Where is the outrage when data show that abortion rates of prenatal babies, particularly with disabilities, is extremely high? Isn't it outrageous that many seem to believe that the disabled, the terminally ill, and the old are not worthy of life? Alfie's case, along with that of Charlie Gard, has shamed Western society, where in both cases the government determined who may have the opportunity to live.
In this day and age, where moral relativism is rampant, when most of us live in an individualistic bubble, we have to be unashamed and unshakable warriors in defense of the dignity and value of life. Alfie Evans's parents' fight for his life is a testament of love and life, but most important of all: hope.
Ojel L. Rodriguez (@ojelrodriguez), AKC is a freelance writer and graduate from King's College, London.