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(LifeSiteNews) — 12-year-old Archie Battersbee has died after a U.K. hospital withdrew his life support, following the defeat of numerous legal battles waged over several months by his parents.
Announcing his death August 6, Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, told reporters: “It’s with my deepest sympathy and sadness to tell you Archie passed at 12.15 today.”
“And can I just tell you, I’m the proudest mum in the whole world. Such a beautiful little boy and he fought right until the very end and I’m so proud to be his mum.”
Archie’s death came just over two hours after the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, overseen by Barts Health NHS Trust, removed his life-support at 10 a.m, August 6. The young boy had been unconscious since April 7, after he was found in that condition by his mother.
He has been on life-support since, and Dance – along with Archie’s father Paul Battersbee – had been engaged in an ongoing legal battle to keep their son alive.
BREAKING: Archie Battersbee’s family say he has died after his life support was withdrawn.https://t.co/zyKQH0zBGg
📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/AzLdZl0owh
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 6, 2022
Background to Archie’s death
On April 7, Archie was found unconscious with a ligature around his neck, in what his mother believes to have been a prop for a social media challenge known as the “blackout challenge.”
Hospital authorities began medical tests and court proceedings April 26 to withdraw his life support. Archie’s parents asked both the hospital and the courts for Archie to be given more time before this happened, and for him to have more medical tests to assess whether his condition improved, before making the decision about withdrawing his life support.
Doctors argued that it was “highly likely” that Archie was already “brain dead,” and after lobbying from the doctors that it was in the boy’s “best interests” to die, the Family Division of the High Court then ruled June 13 that his life support be removed.
Dance and Battersbee appealed the decision, with the Court of Appeals then overturning the High Court ruling on June 29.
The case was returned to the High Court for a second hearing on July 11, with Justice Hayden ruling on July 15 that doctors should stop providing life-support to the boy for his “best interests.”
The family lost a subsequent appeal against Hayden’s ruling on July 25, prompting them to turn to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). After being denied this also, a date and time of August 1 at 2 p.m. was set for Archie’s life-support to be withdrawn.
On August 1, the Court of Appeal heard a last minute intervention from the United Nations to continue life support, but rejected it, ordering life-support to then be removed August 2 at noon. The hospital trust announced it would do so on August 3, unless Dance and Battersbee had submitted a request to the ECHR by 9 a.m. of that morning. The parents made their appeal to the ECHR.
On August 3, the ECHR rejected Archie’s parents’ appeal, even though doctors in Japan and Italy had by now offered to treat Archie.
Blocked at every stage by various courts, his family lodged an appeal August 4 to move Archie to a hospice, so that he could die surrounded by family, away from hospital staff and the security guards surrounding his ward. Life-support was ordered to remain on until 2 p.m., August 5 during this appeal.
The Royal Courts of Justice rejected this appeal on August 5. Justice Theis rejected the move citing the “risks involved in a transfer.” Doctors argued that it would “hasten premature deterioration” even though they had determined Archie “brain-stem dead” during the hearing. The ECHR also denied a subsequent appeal from Archie’s parents made later that same day.
Archie’s life-support was ordered to be removed August 6, at 10 a.m.
Archie died 12:15 p.m. on August 6, as announced by his mother.
Archie baptized Catholic while in hospital
Premier Christian News reported that Archie was in fact baptized Catholic by the hospital chaplain while unconscious in hospital, on Easter Sunday – April 17 – ten days after he was found unconscious.
Hollie Dance revealed that Archie had regularly expressed a desire to be baptized in the local Catholic Church – a wish that was fulfilled after his accident.
Hollie herself, along with two of Archie’s older siblings, reportedly also were baptized on Easter Monday.
Speaking in mid-June, Hollie Dance said while with her son in the hospital “the chaplain came in, and instantly asked ‘Oh, would you like me to pray?’”
“We’ve done that every single day since we’ve been here – every day for just over eight weeks,” she added.
Bishop John Sherrington, the lead bishop for life issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, issued a statement August 5 asking that “as [Archie’s] life support will now be withdrawn, every step must recognise his inherent dignity as a person created in the image and likeness of God.”
In a notable intervention, the Vatican’s now notoriously anti-life Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) also condemned the court ruling which led to Archie’s death. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, PAV Prefect, wrote on Twitter: “I pray for #ArchieBattersbee and his family. When the life of someone is decided by a court, humanity is defeated.”
— Pontifical Academy Life (@PontAcadLife) August 6, 2022
Hospital laments ‘tragic case’ after pulling life support
Archie’s family were represented by Jamie Bogle and the Christian Legal Centre, whose chief executive Andrea Williams said following Archie’s death: “Our thoughts, prayers and support are with Archie’s family at this tragic moment.”
Barts Health NHS Trust offered “condolences” to the grieving family, but at greater length praised the “high quality care with extraordinary compassion” offered by the NHS staff in often “trying and distressing circumstances.”
“This tragic case not only affected the family and his carers but touched the hearts of many across the country,” said the hospital trust, which began tests and proceedings to remove life support as early as April 26.
Archie’s case is the latest high-profile end of life case involving children in the U.K. following Alfie Evans, Charlie Gard, Tafeeda Raqeeb, and Zainab Abbasi.