The parents of the ailing Archie wanted to fight “to the bitter end”. Now the legal process has been exhausted and the family has to come to terms with a tragic fate.
London/Strasbourg – After another legal defeat, the life support devices in the case of the terminally ill Archie are about to be switched off. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg, which the parents had turned on, said on Friday evening that the request to move Archie to a hospice does not fall within its jurisdiction.
A spokesman for Christian Concern, a Christian organization that supports Archie’s family, told Sky News television: “All legal avenues have been exhausted. The family is devastated and spending a lot of time with Archie.”
Archie has been in a coma since April. He suffered serious brain injuries in an accident at home in Southend-on-Sea, possibly during an internet dare. The treating doctors see no chance of recovery.
The UK’s highest court had backed the doctors’ decision to let Archie die. It is in the boy’s best interest. A final appeal by the parents to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg was also unsuccessful.
Archie’s parents then tried to have Archie transferred to a hospice so that their son could spend his final hours in a quieter, more peaceful environment. However, the hospital refused because of his unstable condition. The Court of Appeal in London upheld the decision, saying it was in Archie’s best interest for life support to be withdrawn in the hospital rather than in a different environment, the judge said.
The Court of Appeal in London on Friday evening rejected an application by which the family wanted to be transferred to a hospice after an initial defeat in court. The devices that are currently keeping the boy alive are to be switched off on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. local time.
In their “fight to the bitter end”, the family of the twelve-year-old is supported by the conservative organization Christian Concern, which provides legal assistance in selected cases and speaks out against the recognition of homosexuality and transsexuality.
The legal tug-of-war in the Archie case was even an issue in the Vatican. An opinion piece appeared on the official Vatican platform “Vatican News” arguing against the shutdown of the devices in the Archie case. A society must protect life – and also the weak and fragile – it says.
The case is reminiscent of similar disputes over terminally ill children in Great Britain. The financially squeezed British health service tends to withdraw life support much sooner than would be the case in Germany. In addition, the wishes of parents and relatives are not taken into account to the same extent. What is in the best interests of the patient is often decided by judges on the recommendation of medical professionals. dpa