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Thanks for Alfie

Chiara PaoliniVideo and text from Chiara Paolini

 (In Italian here)

   I’m the mother of three children. One of them is a child with a profound disability: he’s affected by an encephalopathy due to a metabolic progressive and fatal disease, a mitochondrial illness. As a mother, I want to say some “thank yous”.

  First of all, I want to thank Ms. Kate James and Mr. Thomas Evans. What brave mum and dad! You’re the mum and dad that everyone would like to have, who fight for their son’s life with all their strenght. When you tried to legally discharge your son from the hospital, you, Tom, reminded me of St. Joseph when the angel came, appeared to him, and said "Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. If I were your mother, and agewise I could be, I would be so proud of you: I am so proud of you. Listening to you speaking, reading what you write, is so inspirational! Finally a woman and a man, who speak with straight, clear, true, direct words, calling things with their proper names without hyprocrisy. It was so good to listen to you, I thought “there is hope for humanity!” Thank you, thank you so much.

   You said so clear things. It is so clear, in fact, that if you decide the date and the place of someone else’s death you are murdering him! Someone says this is euthanasia, but it’s not, because euthanasia is when someone or, if he cannot, his legal representative asks you to kill him. When you kill someone who doesn’t want to be killed, and Alfie’s parents certainly don’t want that, this has just a name: it’s homicide. It doesn’t matter if one can go to a court and get a paper that allows him to do it and protects him from going to jail, it doesn’t change the nature of this act.

   Someone says “you don’t know the clinical condition of the child”, well I don’t need to. Because I know that killing someone is always wrong and no excuses of exceptional cases can be allowed, unless we want to destroy our society. If we admit killing someone if has a disability, as for Alfie, or if he’s too ill, too young, too old, too black, too Jew, too Catholic, too whatever, you can go on forever. If you can kill someone because his life is not producing or his brain is not working properly, then what will happen to all our children, to people with disability, old people with dementia or Alzheimer, people with terminal cancer or other diseases, soldiers, firemen and policemen who served their countries and lost their health in order to protect us. Everyone would be in danger.

   Someone might say this is not an homicide because you are just withdrawing ventilation, not actively giving the child high dosage of some medication. Well, that’s wrong. It’s easy to understand for example thinking about food. An healthy newborn needs food to grow; if I don’t provide it (and he certainly cannot provide it for himself) and he dies for starvation, I am responsible of killing him because I took off something necessary. And my crime is absolutely not less horrible if my child has a disability, actually it’s even worse, because it’s so easy to perpetrate crimes against the most vulnerable of us. Ventilation is exactly the same thing. It’s not a therapy because you can survive on vent but definitely Alfie will not get mended by his ventilator. And, believe me, one can die, when his times comes, with a ventilator on and half an hour after his last meal.

   Even admitting that ventilator is a therapy, and it’s not, you cannot say it is futile; in fact you want to turn it off for the opposite reason: because it’s working, it’s doing its job, it’s keeping the child alive. Really, you admitted that you want to eliminate the child because you judged that his life is futile, that the child is futile, not his treatment. A human life never becomes futile. Humans never transform into plants or into animals that you can kill when it suits you because they are challenging to care for or they are too costly.

   I want to thank the doctors, the ones who are doctors. You are the doctors, you save people, you fight with us against the enemies, against illness, accidents, injuries, everything bad that can happen, you save lives, you are our heroes! What’s going on here? We don’t expect you to give up! Please, don’t betray the Hippocratic Oath to never kill anyone, even when asked for; we need to trust you and rely on you. We don’t expect you to give up. Of course, it’s not always possible to cure every illness. If you cannot cure someone, you can still care for him till his natural death occurs or pass him to other doctors who might have a better go. Why do you give up, are you allying with the enemy because you cannot win it? Are you servants of the illnesses, the bad, the darkness? We never expect you doctors to administer death as a solution to your lack of power. It’s as if you blind me because you don’t have glasses to give me. Well, actually it’s a little bit worse… isn’t it. Death is never an act of compassion. And it’s pretty obvious to everyone that death is never in the best interest of any living creature.We help people die controlling the symptoms, relieving pain, surrounding them with love of their family and friends, not causing death, withholding or withdrawing treatment. Are we helping someone die or are we making someone die? Alfie is at the moment actually not even dying at all. There is something so wrong in taking someone else’s life… these young parents entrusted you with their son’s life and you take it. It’s so unfair. *

   Same thing for judges and magistrates: you are there to protect the lives of the weakest, not to decide if they should live or not, that’s certainly not up to you or to anyone, especially in countries where death penalty has been abolished. Anyway in countries where death penalty is still there it is given to people who committed a crime or at least that are considered dangerous. How dangerous and powerful must be this little 23 months old child in a bed of the intensive care unit, on life support! He shakes your society from the bottom. He’s certainly a very important terrorist that you surrounded the hospital with police and stopped the airplanes to fly, have police surveilling him, and what a zealous judge that wakes up in the middle of the night and produces straight away the document the hospital asked for to back them up, otherwise they could be sued for imprisoning people. The only ones who cannot actually abduct the child, in this case, are his own parents, because Alfie is their son, if they’re taking him, they are not abducting him: how can they possibly steal something that is already theirs?

   I want to thank all these courageus supporters of Alfie’s Army worldwide: you didn’t keep silent, you stood up for good, you stood up for life, you stood up for family, you stood up for the weak and for what you believe in, you are straight and clean; thank you, because remaining in silence now is the same as being partner in crime.

   Last but not least I want to thank you, Alfie… such a gorgeous, little, young, innocent, peaceful boy that forces us to rethink about what matters in life, what love and compassion means, what being father and mother means. You took the best out of your parents, you made them a father, and what father, and a mother, and what mother. You are making us people, you are making us human. You show what love is, that one can be loved not because of what he does, but because he exists! You’re making your parents show so clearly how God, as a father, loves us, even if we are very bad, till the end, giving his own Son for us: you show the pure face of God. You certainly are a baby Jesus like the name of the hospital your parents want to take you to. You show so clearly that all our actions have consequences, everything we do to the least of these, we do it to Him. I want to tell you this because one day the judgement of God will arrive, if you believe in it or not. Since Thomas said Alfie is a Son of God, I want to conclude with a very famous passage of the Bible from the Exodus: Then the Lord said to Moses “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: Let my people go!’”

** Inspired by “Von Gallen homily during second world war”

* From “Euthanasia Deception”, Vulnerable Film

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