Conservatives following the story of little Alfie Evans were outraged by the cruelty with which the British state handled his life.
Alfie spent more than a year in the hospital, suffering from a degenerative neurological condition, before his doctors went to the courts to take him off life support, arguing that sustaining Alfie’s life was “not in his best interests.” Justice Anthony Hayden affirmed the doctors’s decision to pull the plug, citing their medical expertise.
Alfie’s parents failed in appealing the ruling, and when they moved to fly their nearly 2-year-old son to Italy for further treatment, they were blocked again by the state.
The tragic story of Alfie shows what happens when society rejects the value of life for a culture of death. In a secular, atheist society, the state assumes the authority to judge the value of life.
On one hand, the killing of Alfie exemplifies the next stage of the logic already used to justify state-sanctioned abortion. But it also sets a disturbing precedent: if the state can kill a child because it is in their “best interest” to die, what is stopping the state from doing the same to any person with a profound disability?
The cruel argument the state used to justify killing Alfie was not new. We saw a similar case last year when the parents of Charlie Gard, another ill British child, were blocked from flying him to the U.S. to receive an experimental treatment.
Like Charlie, Alfie’s doctors decided that sustaining his life was not only “futile” but “unkind and inhumane.” In making this judgment, the doctors argued that their medical expertise gave them the authority to decide what life is.
But this is a moral question, not a technical one. Doctors are qualified for one job: to heal the sick. They do not have the authority to judge the value of life.
When society becomes secular, the state replaces God, and secular experts — in this case, doctors — are given the authority to judge moral questions. Since life is no longer sacred, a person is measured instead by their presumed potential for happiness and the stress they impose on others.
The left is eager to make secular experts into moral authorities because it fits their utopian projects. Leftists may use science to dismiss the life of a child before birth, arguing that an embryo or fetus is “just a clump of cells.”
Leftists reacted to Alfie’s case with indifference, affirming that the scientific authority of the doctors should not be questioned.
The ethics of convenience
Without God, a secular society turns to harm/benefit logic to decide ethical questions by calculating how much suffering is brought into or out of the world by taking an action. The relevant scientific experts are consulted to determine how to maximize pleasure and minimize pain for the greatest number of people.
This is the logic used to justify abortion. Pro-abortionists think it’s justifiable to kill a baby if bringing the child into the world will bring avoidable harm to the mother, or to the wider society, by being a burden.
Progressives further reason that a child with little chance of happiness will not experience a life worth living. According to this logic, if bringing a child into the world causes more net harm than happiness, then the child is a moral non-entity and ought to be killed.
In Alfie’s case, the doctors used science to calculate that his life was disposable because it would be full of pain. His suffering meant that his life was without value.
Evidently, the logic behind abortion also justifies state-sanctioned euthanasia.
Culture of death
There is something deeply chilling in the language the doctors used — that it would not be in “Alfie’s best interests” to live. This is totalitarian doublespeak.
In reality, the state had decided that it was not in the best interest of the state for Alfie to live, and passed off this judgment like it had ruled in Alfie’s interest.
The twisted truth is that Alfie had become an inconvenience to the British state. Secularism introduces an eagerness to embrace death when things get inconvenient.
Most people know intuitively that a fetus is not just a “clump of cells.” It’s a cynical way of reasoning to make life convenient for the living and the healthy by killing off the sick and the unborn.
A baby is only a clump of cells when we need it to be.
What about people with disabilities? They often endure great suffering, and can become a burden to their families and the state.
A doctor might judge that it would not be in the interest of a profoundly disabled adult to live. Does that make them disposable?
The Alfie Evans case shows what happens when society embraces secular atheism. It doesn’t stop with abortion, but progresses to more depraved acts.
Utopian progressives like Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, embraced eugenics in the early 20th century. Things are coming full circle.
What the British state did to little Alfie was pure evil. Tragically, if nothing is done to protect the rights of British parents, this will probably happen again.
We need to reject the culture of death, recognize the value of life, and protect families from being oppressed by the state.