LONDON (AP) – A British court has rejected a request by the parents of a boy in a coma to be allowed to move their son to a hospice when hospital doctors withdraw his life-support treatment.
Barring any further legal action, the ruling would open the door for doctors at the Royal London Hospital to end life-sustaining treatments for 12-year-old Archie Battersby. He has been in a coma since early April and doctors believe he is brain dead.
“I’m back where I started, recognizing the enormity of what lies ahead for Archie’s parents and family. Their unconditional love and devotion to Archie is a golden thread running through this case,” wrote Superior Court Judge Lucy Thies. “I hope that Archie can now be given the opportunity to die in peace, with the family that meant so much to him, as he clearly means to them.”
Archie’s care was the subject of weeks of legal battles as his parents tried to force the hospital to continue life-sustaining treatments and doctors argued there was no chance of recovery and he should be allowed to die.
The family sought 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.
The row is the latest UK case to pit doctors’ judgment against families’ wishes. Under British law, it is common for the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree about a child’s treatment. In such cases, the best interests of the child override the parents’ right to decide what they believe is best for their offspring.