London (AFP) – A British court has rejected a request from the parents of a comatose child to be allowed to take their son to hospice when hospital doctors withdraw his life-supporting treatment.
Barring any other legal action, the decision will open the door for doctors at the Royal London Hospital to end life-sustaining treatments for 12-year-old Archie Battersby. He has been in a coma since early April and doctors believe he is brain dead.
“I return to where I began, aware of the enormity of what awaits Archie’s parents and family. Their unconditional love and devotion to Archie is a golden thread running through this case,” Supreme Court Justice Lucy Theiss wrote. “I now hope that Archie will be given the opportunity to die in peaceful conditions, with the family that She meant as much to him as he clearly does to them.”
Archie’s care was the subject of weeks of legal battles as his parents sought to force the hospital to continue life-sustaining treatment, and doctors argued that there was no chance of recovery and should be allowed to die.
The family requested permission to move Archie to a nursing home after British courts ruled it was in his best interest to end the treatment, and the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene. The hospital said Archie’s condition was so unstable that his transfer would hasten his death.
The dispute is the latest case in the UK that puts doctors’ rulings against families’ wishes. Under British law, it is common for the courts to step in when parents and doctors disagree about the treatment of a child. In such cases, the best interests of the child take precedence over the parents’ right to decide what they think is best for their offspring.