Sight Magazine – UK family loses Supreme Court bid to extend boy’s life


London, UK

The UK Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stop a hospital from withdrawing life support from a 12-year-old boy with catastrophic brain damage, rejecting an offer from his parents to extend his treatment.

Archie Battersbee’s parents had asked Supreme Court justices to block a lower court’s ruling that the Royal London Hospital can turn off the boy’s ventilator and stop other life-sustaining interventions.

Archie Battersbee’s mother, Hollie Dance, centre, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on July 25. PHOTO: Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP.

Archie’s treatment was due to end Tuesday noon, but the hospital said it would await the Supreme Court’s decision.

Judges at the UK’s highest court said Archie had “no prospect of a significant recovery” and that even with continued treatment he would die within weeks of organ and heart failure. Judges agreed with a lower court that continued treatment “only serves to prolong his death”.

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said the family will “fight until the end” but it was unclear what legal options they had left.

Archie was found unconscious at his home with a ligature on his head on April 7. His parents think he may have participated in an online challenge gone wrong.

Doctors believe Archie is brain dead and say continuing life-sustaining treatment is not in his best interests. Several UK courts agreed.

The family appealed to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and requested that the withdrawal of treatment be suspended while the committee considers the case.

“We don’t understand what the rush is and why all of our wishes are denied,” Dance said.

The case is the latest in the UK which has pitted the judgment of doctors against the wishes of families. In several cases, including this one, the families were supported by a religious pressure group, Christian Concern.

Under UK law, it is common for the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree over a child’s treatment. In such cases, the rights of the child take precedence over the right of the parents to decide what is best for their offspring.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal said that “every day that [Archie] continues to receive life-sustaining treatment is against their best interests and therefore even a short stay is against their best interests”.

A three-judge Supreme Court panel said it could only overturn the decision “if satisfied that the Court of Appeal erred in law or in principle.” of Appeal made such an error”.

“The panel comes to this conclusion with heavy hearts and wishes to express its deepest sympathy to Archie’s parents at this very sad time,” the court said.


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