UK court bars parents from moving comatose boy to hospice

Aug 5, 2022, 3:48 AM | Updated: 10:44 am
Undated family handout photo of Archie Battersbee, whose parents have submitted an application to t...

Undated family handout photo of Archie Battersbee, whose parents have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights in a bid to postpone the withdrawal of his life support. The family of a comatose boy have filed a legal action requesting permission to move their son from a London hospital to a hospice. Archie Battersbee’s parents announced the move after the European Court of Human Rights late Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 rejected a request to intervene in the case following a series of rulings by U.K. courts that backed doctors who said further treatment was not in the 12-year-old’s best interests because he is brain dead. (Hollie Dance via AP)

(Hollie Dance via AP)

LONDON (AP) — A British judge on Friday rejected a request from the parents of a comatose boy to allow them to move their son to a hospice when hospital doctors withdraw his life-support treatment.

The parents quickly asked the Court of Appeal in London for permission to appeal the ruling, prolonging the legal battle over the care of Archie Battersbee. The 12-year-old has been in a coma since early April and doctors believe he is brain dead.

“All our wishes as a family have been denied by the authorities,´´ his mother, Hollie Dance, said as the family sought permission to appeal. “We are broken, but we are keeping going, because we love Archie and refuse to give up on him.”

Archie’s care has been the subject of weeks of legal arguments as his parents sought to force the Royal London Hospital to continue life-sustaining treatments as doctors argued there was no chance of recovery and he should be allowed to die.

The family asked for permission to move Archie to a hospice after British courts ruled it was in his best interests 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.

High Court Judge Lucy Theis on Friday morning rejected the family’s request, saying Archie should remain in the hospital while treatment is withdrawn.

“I return to where I started, recognizing the enormity of what lays ahead for Archie’s parents and the family. Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case,´´ Theis wrote in her decision. “I hope now Archie can be afforded the opportunity for him to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant so much to him as he clearly does to them.´´

Theis granted a stay on the withdrawal of treatment to allow time for the family to consider further legal action.

The dispute is the latest U.K. case pitting the judgment of doctors against the wishes of families. Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the best interests of the child take primacy over the parents’ right to decide what they believe is best for their children.

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UK court bars parents from moving comatose boy to hospice