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MEP launching campaign for 'Alfie's Law' to give parents more say

Photo: ITV Granada Reports

An MEP is launching a campaign for "Alfie's Law" to give parents of terminally-ill children more say in end-of-life hospital care for their sons and daughters.

Steven Woolfe, Member of the European Parliament for North West England, is backing the bid following his support for the family of Alfie Evans.

The 23-month-old, who has a degenerative brain disease, has had life support withdrawn at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

His parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, have opposed withdrawing life support and want to take him abroad for treatment.

An increasingly acrimonious six-month battle with the hospital has seen medical staff allegedly targeted, a mob try to storm the hospital doors, and a series of failed legal tussles in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Successive judges have agreed that Alfie has been given "world-class" healthcare by Alder Hey but his brain is so damaged that further treatment is "futile" and it is in his best interests to withdraw life support, against his parent's wishes.

Mr Woolfe's campaign is being backed by right-leaning think-tank Parliament Street and launched on Thursday outside the Houses of Parliament.

The campaign claims that, while recognising the dedication of doctors and nurses treating sick children, parents also have "moral rights" about the care of their loved ones.

Credit: Family handout

The cases of Charlie Gard, Aysha King, and now Alfie Evans, show a dangerous trend of public bodies depriving parents and families of the right to make decisions they believe are in the best interests of their children.

Parents' rights should neither be ignored nor dismissed as irrelevant by hospitals and courts, who believe they know best and have the power, money and resources to overwhelm families who simply want to save their child.

We demand a change in the law to restore the rights of parents in such decisions.

All parents should be allowed an independent advocate to defend their case with the right legal and medical expertise and financial equality of arms.

Now is the time to act. We cannot have another baby, another family, have to go through the struggle and torment the Evans family have. It's time for Alfie's Law.

– Steven Woolfe MEP

A number of recent cases similar to Alfie's have seen parents involved in protracted legal battles over treatment plans and the think-tank is calling for the matter to be debated by MPs.

A spokesman for Parliament Street said: "Parents are being sidelined in the care of their children, in what are highly complicated moral decisions.

"We strongly believe it is time for a change in the law to re-empower parents to have a say in the treatment of their children.

"We know that MPs have the power to change this to help children and their parents in future, and call on them to address this."

The campaign launch will take place on College Green, Westminster, on Thursday afternoon.

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