Alfie Evans Must Die So the Nanny State May Live
I was trying to explain the Alfie Evans case to a friend. And finding it hard to do it. Not without resorting to bleak theories that allege the darkest motives. In case you’ve missed it, Alfie Evans is a chronically ill British child whose parents want to remove him from a Liverpool hospital to try alternative treatments. And the hospital is defying them. Denying him further treatment. Leaving him to die.
While the State might entrust most kids to their biological parents, they’re really on loan.
“So this is just the National Health Service, isn’t it? They’re trying to cut costs.” So she said, trying to make sense of the case.
Well, no. Not directly. Yes, rationing is a huge part of government health care. But it’s also part of private insurance. Chances are, your plan won’t cover elective bariatric surgery (though that might extend your life). There are also limits to how much it will pay even for directly life-saving treatments. We live in a world of limited resources.
Yes, the death of Charlie Gard, and the planned death of Alfie Evans, are partly the fruit of socialism. But not directly. After all, as some observers pointed out online, the Italian government offered to fly poor little Alfie in and care for him. It also has socialized medicine. In theory socialists could embrace the sanctity of life. Even as they trample over property rights and crucial liberties.
Socialism Undermines Humanity
That rarely plays out in practice, however. Socialism saps the dignity of the individual. By separating him from the consequences of his decisions, it infantilizes him. (See my essay of last year on why.) If you make the State your Nanny, you’re admitting that you’re still a child. And children don’t make life or death decisions. We leave those to the adults.
If you make the State your Nanny, you’re admitting that you’re still a child. And children don’t make life or death decisions. We leave those to the adults.
The biggest difference socialist medicine makes is one of attitude. Putting the centralized State in charge of virtually everyone’s health decisions encourages bureaucrats to think that they have the right to make all such decisions. Even when people can pay for services themselves, or raise the money to do it from well-wishers.
That’s how statism works. It’s how we see the standards imposed in government (public) schools eventually pushed on to private schools. Then even home schools. In its worst form, you get laws like the one Hitler’s Germany passed, which is still in force, banning home schools altogether.
Dissent Is Not Permitted
Next these public officials decide that they can impose their own ethical judgments on every citizen. Dissenters with different, religiously driven values will end up the victims of coercion. See how the state of California is poised to impose a pseudo-medical judgment — that homosexual desires are both normal and unchangeable — on its citizens. Soon it may be illegal not just to hang out a shingle offering to help reluctant homosexuals curb their desires. You could go to jail even for selling books that help them practice chastity. Could a pastor be punished for repeating the official teaching of historic Christian churches on the subject? We might not find out until one of them gets arrested, and his case goes to court.
My friend tried another theory: “So the authorities see that Alfie is suffering, and they want to put him out of his misery.”
Ah, no. There is no evidence that young Alfie Evans is in untreatable pain. Doctors are at hand with pain medication if he needs it, which his parents aren’t refusing. In fact, it’s the doctors who are denying Alfie Evans what he needs. First they cut off his oxygen tube, thinking that he’d die without it. They even prepared a euthanasia drug to give him despite his parents’ refusal. For some reason, perhaps the fact that it’s used to execute murderers in the U.S., they took that off the table.
Now little Alfie has been defying medical predictions and breathing for many hours on his own. So the doctors have stepped up their abuse. They won’t let his parents take one of the oxygen masks lying just outside the hospital room and help Alfie’s breathing. They’re denying him food and even water. This is now a case of state-imposed euthanasia by a cruel and painful means. And it’s being done in defiance of his parents’ explicit wishes. And in the teeth of the Italian government, which granted Alfie citizenship in the hope of protecting him.
Your Children Are Really on Loan from the Government
“So what on earth is going on over there? Why is the British government courting all this controversy? Why don’t they just let his parents put him on a plane? Let Italy deal with it.” My friend was getting exasperated.
Finally, stripped of every less grim and apocalyptic answer, I came at last to this one: This is a point of principle. The doctors and the judges who back them in the war against Alfie Evans are fighting to set a precedent. To establish a point of law. And that is this: Parents don’t matter. Even a fit mother and father with a child’s best interests at heart don’t get to make these decisions. The State does.
Thus every baby born in Britain and countries like it is really the child of the government. While it might see fit to entrust most such kids to their biological parents, they’re really on loan. Just as citizens can’t really defend their homes against invasion by burglars in Britain, nor can they make crucial decisions for their children. Not if their choices flout the utilitarianism of a secular theocracy.
You May Not Continue that Pregnancy
I see where this is leading. As much of a nightmare as the Alfie Evans case is, the British government is pursuing it to lay the groundwork for something much worse. You’ve no doubt read how some governments seek to eradicate Down Syndrome by encouraging abortion. (It was once-Christian Iceland, not Communist China, that announced its goal of aborting 100% of such children.) As hideous as that is, it isn’t yet coercive. Parents in Britain still have the right to decide against abortion in such cases.
But for how long will they? If the State can decide that for a child like Alfie, life itself has no value, and impose that on his parents, what does that mean? How many years before the same medical “ethicists” who deny little Alfie food and water decide that the same principle applies to all handicapped children? They can save the health system money, by nipping such kids in the bud. They can also witness to what they consider crucial moral principles:
- Human life is not sacred.
- Suffering has no meaning.
- Citizens belong to the state.
- Dissidents will be silenced.
So you can see why the medical and legal authorities are fighting so doggedly. His parents may be fighting for Alfie, but the establishment’s fighting for Nanny. And Nanny must always win.