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Alfie Evans more than 48 hours after he was removed from his ventilator on April 23, 2018. Kate James / Facebook

April 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – As most of you will already know, Alfie Evans passed away in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital during the early morning hours of April 28, ending a bitter battle between his parents, Alfie’s doctors, the British court system over who had the right to determine the little boy’s treatment. 

The parents had sought permission to take their son to Italy, and the Hospital had refused, saying that further treatment was not in Alfie’s “best interests.” Alfie had been taken off the ventilator that doctors had said was necessary to save his life on Monday, but the boy had instead begun breathing on his own. He was twenty-three months old when he died.

Read: Alfie Evans has died

Alfie’s story is both inspirational and infuriating. Inspirational, because the little boy clung to life with a tenacity that attracted attention from around the world. Infuriating, because it is so hard to understand why the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital could not simply have allowed Alfie to be transferred to a hospital that was more than willing to take him—but instead fought with the parents in court, insisting that their judgment should override that of the parents.

But in the midst of all of these details—I won’t rehash them all, as many of you are no doubt already familiar with them—the story of Alfie Evans may be remembered as a cultural watershed moment. Let me give a few reasons for that bold assertion.

  1. Any pro-life activist will tell you that Alfie Evans—a little boy with a neurological degenerative condition needing an extraordinary amount of care with very little chance of full recovery—is precisely the type of case that abortion activists constantly use to justify why abortion is necessary. Pro-choice people often highlight cases such as Alfie’s as a reason women need access to abortion, which is presented as the most compassionate way of dealing with little boys and girls like Alfie Evans. But with Alfie, millions of people around the world suddenly rallied behind a little brain-damaged boy in a coma. Gone were the comments about his “quality of life”—instead, many people who would probably say they were pro-choice if you asked them joined an enormous chorus of men and women demanding that Alfie be given a chance to live. This is nothing short of a breakthrough in empathy, and a recognition that the eugenic abortion mindset ignores the fact that beautiful little babies like Alfie can be loved and enrich the lives of many, too. After all, the Facebook Page Alfie’s Army has nearly 900,000 followers.
  2. The story of Alfie Evans suddenly brought parental rights to the forefront of political debate. Unfortunately, “parental rights” has been a very abstract phrase for many people across the West, and individual instances of those rights being violated are often ignored or written off as possibly deserved. In the case of Alfie Evans, it suddenly became clear that there are real and horrifying consequences to the state obtaining the power to decide what is best for your children—his parents did not even have the right to take him to a different hospital. Regardless of what you think of Alfie’s parents’ decision, many people could not believe that they did not even have the right to make medical decisions for their own son. At a very minimum, I suspect that other medical institutions will not be eager to go to war with parents again any time soon.
  3. No story has brought the fundamental right to life to the foreground like the story of Alfie Evans—a little boy, as I mentioned earlier, that many abortion activists would use as a case study for merited feticide. Piers Morgan tweeted his support for Alfie. Pope Francis got involved. Members of Parliament, foreign heads of state, American senators, and European politicians weighed in, all touched by a little boy who never spoke a single word throughout the entire saga. Alfie Evans struck a chord in people, reminding them of something that we once knew but are rapidly and tragically forgetting: All human beings are precious, no matter what. Alfie reminded the world of that fact, and that is why an army rallied to his cause.

My heart goes out to Alfie’s parents and family, who fought so long and so hard for their little boy. I hope they realize that they became role models for what it looks like to be a self-sacrificing parent willing to do anything for their child. They did everything they could think of to defend Alfie, and not because of anything he could do for them. They did it because Alfie was theirs, and that was all that mattered. The story of Alfie Evans showed the world what it looks like when parents love their children no matter what, that all lives are precious, and that every child should get a chance to live—and that every child’s parents should fight for that right.

When you look at it that way, the sad story of Alfie Evans is also inexpressibly beautiful. 

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.