There’s a scene in the movie “Sea Biscuit” that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind this week as I watched from afar the saga of Alfie Evans. He is the British toddler whose family was spurned in their effort to transfer their terminally ill son to Italy for treatment. He died this week, nearly five days after having life support removed. This came despite doctors’ prediction that he would be dead within hours; but let’s not quibble about details.
In the movie, a wild horse at a track breaks his leg during a race and becomes combative. One of the track officials nearby grows angry as the horse falls and grabs his rifle. But then another man appears…an odd fellow who was living nearby in the woods. He offers to take the horse. The gunman tells him to “Get the hell out of here! He has a fractured foot!” The odd fellow replies, “If you’re gonna shoot him anyway, l’ll save you the bullet.” The gunman relents and turns the horse over to the oddball; who eventually nurses him back to health.
I *really* try to separate my emotions from debate over socio-political issues. I know emotions can be fickle and misleading. And they are most certainly a poor basis upon which to set public policy. But this saga is not leaving my mind. I am absolutely infuriated by the unadulterated hubris of people who are willing to give the Government the benefit of the doubt over the Individual.
As was the case with Charlie Gard last year, another infant who died shortly after the UK refused to let his parent seek care outside of Britain; I will say that it is obscene that parents would have to ask their government for permission to treat their child. THAT is the issue here. The nature of the disease, any chances of survival—those are mere intrigue.
If the government denied Alfie Evans treatment in their system because they own the means of treatment, that is almost understandable. But they used their power to deny him treatment in ANY system…irrespective of the fact that it would not have required public dollars. That is chilling. But the MOST chilling thing are the people who are performing mental and linguistic gymnastics to justify it. What have we become? More to the point…what has the UK become? The same nation that produced Winston Churchill and conspicuous bravery in World War Two is now evidently populated by sheepish people who are willing to let the government do just about anything they desire.
As a result of the twists and turns in this case, the UK became invested in the child’s death. If he went to Italy and his position improved in the slightest, it would have been a total repudiation of the NHS, the court system…everything government-lovers hold dear. They have demonstrated that they will literally kill a child before they let that happen.
In reading comments from people who blame the PARENTS for being selfish…I can only say that I am amazed I share DNA with them. We are not just from different planets; we are different species. There is no middle ground. In fact, if I were able to reach any kind of accord with someone who thought like you, I would think myself insane.
So why the fervor? Why the passion for letting a child die? Italy was willing to metaphorically “save you the bullet” like in the movie. What were you worried might happen?
So where do we go from here? I will say I no longer have any respect for the UK. And no, I don’t think such a scenario will play out soon anytime here in the States. But I’m also sure that if you asked the Greatest Generation in the UK if they could envision a day when the Government would deny parents the right to seek medical treatment outside the country, regardless of the chances for success, they would have laughed at you.
Things change quickly. I will fight like hell to make sure they don’t change for the worse.