If you saw the police guarding a hospital, you would likely come to one of two conclusions. Either the police are protecting someone important, or they are ensuring that a patient, like a recently caught fugitive or a convict, does not escape.
In Britain, they apparently also send police guards to ensure that babies die in accordance with court orders.
Alfie Evans And British Healthcare
Alfie Evans has been ordered to die by the British legal system. His case will remind readers of Charlie Gard, the British infant whose parents were denied the choice of seeking treatment for him in the United States or Italy. Like Charlie’s parents, Alfie’s parents appealed to the misnamed European Court of Human Rights and the British legal system. They wanted the right to take Alfie to Italy, where he might receive treatment.
Shamefully, both sets of parents lost their appeals.
The rest of the world, it would seem, wanted to support Alfie. Alfie and his parents, like Charlie and his parents, won the support of Pope Francis. The Italian government went so far as to grant Alfie citizenship. The Italian Ambassador in London’s chief of staff was present in court on Tuesday, and a military air ambulance was on standby to take Alfie to a children’s hospital in Rome. However, the British system refused to budge.
Why would Britain refuse to let Alfie go? The state-run health care system of Britain has decided it knows better than Alfie’s parents. In their view, what is best for Alfie was to remove his life support.
Then, the unexpected happened. Alfie defied expectations, and continued to breathe for more than 24 hours. Both his parents gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation to keep him alive after life support was removed against their desires.
As of Wednesday when this article was drafted, Alfie was still alive. So why did the British Government decide he needed to die?
The Problem of the National Health Service
The National Health Service is a source of national pride for Britain. 72% of Britons in 2013 said the NHS is a symbol of what makes Britain great. After the 2012 London Olympics, the NHS ranked as the most favorably viewed British institution. By contrast, the British Army, Team Great Britain, and the monarchy ranked second through fourth, respectively.
Everyone, from all sides of the political spectrum sings the praises of free-state run health care. For example, during the Brexit campaign Boris Johnson, current Foreign Secretary of the Tory government, argued that if Britain left the European Union, it would have more money to spend on the NHS. He would stand in front of a bus that said, “We send the EU £350 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.”
Though NHS has the public’s favor, 70% of Britons think the NHS is going in the wrong direction. 82% are worried about its future. Essentially everyone in Britain realizes the NHS has problems, but the superstition of “free” health care persists. Watch any parliamentary debate about the NHS on C-SPAN. One side argues that the answer to the NHS’s woes is to spend more money, while the other side says only increasing spending by that amount is inhumane.
They refuse to admit that the problem with the NHS is not the funding levels, but is in fact the NHS itself.
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
In the cases of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard, the consequences of giving the state a monopoly over health care reared their ugly head. On paper, the system looks fantastic. They put patients before profits, as our Bernie-supporting friends like to say. Everyone has free access to their basic human right of health care, regardless of wealth, age, or physical condition…
… Everyone, that is, except those whom the state decides are undeserving. Since the state has a monopoly over health care there is no second option. If you want to take your infant child to Italy to get health care, you, the parents, have to convince the state that it is in your child’s best interest.
Does anyone believe for one second that if Alfie Evans was the new royal baby, the Royal Family would be denied the right to have him flown to Rome for treatment?
Thus, the system that purportedly exists to serve the people ends up doing just the opposite. Rather than the government having to answer to the people, the people have to answer to the government.
Such a system can be considered lots of things, but “compassionate” or “humane” are not among them.