LONDON (TSWT) – A British court has rejected a request from the parents of a comatose boy to allow them to take their son to a hospice when hospital doctors withdraw his life-support treatment.
Barring further legal action, the decision would open the door for doctors at the Royal London Hospital to end life-prolonging treatments for 12-year-old Archie Battersbee. He has been in a coma since early April and doctors believe he is brain dead.
“I return to where I started and recognize the enormity of what lies ahead for Archie’s parents and family. Their unconditional love and devotion to Archie is a common thread running through this case,” High Court Judge Lucy Thies wrote. “I hope Archie can now have the chance to die in peaceful conditions, with the family who meant as much to him as he clearly does to them.”
Archie’s concern has been the subject of weeks of legal battles as his parents tried to force the hospital to continue life-prolonging treatments and doctors argued there was no chance of recovery and he would have to die.
The family requested permission to move Archie to a hospice after British courts ruled it was in his best interest to end treatment, and the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene. The hospital said Archie’s condition was so unstable that moving him would hasten his death.
The dispute is the latest British case in which doctors’ verdicts go against families’ wishes. Under UK law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree about how to treat a child. In such cases, the best interests of the child take precedence over the parents’ right to decide what they believe is best for their offspring.