By Maureen Malloy Ferguson

The core question at the heart of the wrenching case of gravely ill British toddler Alfie Evans is “Who decides?”  Alfie’s parents’ wishes for his care have been overruled by the hospital and the British courts, and a very ugly public debate has ensued.  Should these most intimate of life and death medical decisions be made by the omnipotent state-run U.K. health system, or by his loving parents?

Details of the case have reached America’s shores in recent days. The now 23-month-old boy was admitted to the hospital in December 2016. Alfie has an undiagnosed degenerative brain disease. British doctors have argued that his condition will not improve and that he should be taken off life support. With the approval and support of Pope Francis (and at no cost to the U.K.), Alfie’s parents wanted to take him for treatment in Rome in hopes of a miracle cure or at least a more humane end for Alfie. Instead the court ordered that the child be taken off life support, which was terminated Monday.

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