The story of Alfie Evans garnered headlines in the United Kingdom, but also among American media, including CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Evans passed away last Saturday after living five days without life support.
Evans had a severe neurological condition and had been on life support for an extended period of time, but the courts and National Health Service staff said that it was in the child’s “best interests” to have him taken off life support. The case echoed one from last summer, in which infant Charlie Gard was taken off life support despite the wishes of the parents and of the Vatican. Gard died a day after being taken home, without the option of being put back on life support.
Evans’ parents fought a four-month legal battle, and, like Gard’s parents, lost the legal fight. For five days, Evans survived and breathed on his own and received some water and aid from the Alder Hey hospital staff. The Liverpool-based hospital abided by the court’s orders and did not restore life support, despite the parents’ pleas.
His parents gained support from the British public, where crowds showed up outside the hospital, and after Evans’ death, offered messages of support via social media.
According to the mainstream media, British law places the burden of issues like continuing life support on the courts and doctors, not the parents or relatives of the affected patient.
It is a stark difference from U.S. law, where the courts and the doctors do not have as much sway in most cases on life support decisions. The Gard and Evans cases display the difference between a socialized government-run health care system and the free-market approach taken in the U.S.