Little Alfie Evans has passed away.
In the parlance of the day, this precious child, who had become a universal focal point about life issues and government intrusion into the lives of private citizens, has become yesterday’s news. In a week, no one on Facebook, Instagram or cable news will be talking about him. He will go into the “irrelevant” file of our collective consciousness, and news media will descend on the next sensational story.
While it was still a “hot” topic, plenty of ink spilled all over this issue, some in defense of the Catholic (in the old days, it was the entire Western World’s) position on the value of each individual life and the autonomy of parents, and some by panels of experts who said that disconnecting this child from life support and preventing the parents from seeking other treatment elsewhere was in the best interest of the child.
Most of it is moot now. Alfie, baptized and innocent — what a daily double — is resting in the bosom of God, and for that we should all be thankful. How Alfie got there is something about which we should all be concerned.
Since most of what I write is about how American culture intersects, redirects and sometimes contradicts Catholic truths, I thought I would consume a little British popular media culture regarding little Alfie Evans.
I came across an article in the Daily Mail, published just two days before the little boy died. The Daily Mail is one of those infamous tabloids that follows the haunts of British celebrities and, of course, every member of the Kardashian family.
But it also covers the news of the day, and there was an op-ed by one Jan Moir defending the state against Alfie Evans.
It was a staunch defense, the author accepting the secular utilitarianism championed here in the United States in Ivy League schools by the likes of Dr. Peter Singer. Because Alfie was brain damaged, he was not worth as much as another child without that affliction.
Ms. Moir was rudimentarily sympathetic toward Alfie’s parents, but was sure to separate Alfie from the rest of us. This kind of thinking is why Iceland has “cured” Down Syndrome — not because some brilliant Icelandic research scientist has created a reparative gene therapy, but because “forward-thinking” Icelandic doctors are eliminating children with Down Syndrome before they have a chance at birth.
As with most evil ideas, they don’t always come with horns and pitchforks. Adam and Eve were tempted not by something awful but by something that sounded pretty good.
Jan Moir does her own take on this by giving lip service to the offer Pope Francis and the Italian government made trying to help this family. But she added, quite quickly, how hopeless the situation was, and by doing so, endorsed the state’s killing point of view.
Alfie may be gone, and the media may be already onto the next sensational story, but we would all do well to remember a line in this op-ed: “Alfie’s young parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, have managed to convince themselves and their supporters that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool where he’s been treated for 15 months is not fit for purpose.”
If she means that the parents believed their child should not be killed by the state, then I guess she has a point. The “imperfection” of Alfie’s body seems to be the reason for the state’s “compassion.” There are over 6 billion people on this planet — and all of them are imperfect in one sense or another.
People involved in the “pro-choice” movement always tell us that the decision of whether a woman terminates a pregnancy is a private one between her and her physician…and it is not the government’s business. But what do we do when the physician is an agent of the state, which is the case in the United Kingdom?
Regardless of the medical issues this poor little child had, the lingering fact of this story of a seemingly free and open liberal society preventing its citizens to move about as they choose in the real interest of their own child, hovers like an ominous cloud.
Upon the passing of little Alfie Evans, Pope Francis said, “I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.” I’d only add we should save a prayer or two for ourselves.