UPDATED AUG. 6 at 10:20 AM ET: Archie Battersbee died on Saturday afternoon local time sometime after he was taken off the ventilator that was sustaining his life. On Friday, his parents had exhausted all legal options in their fight to keep him alive or moved to a hospice.
Archie Battersbee’s life support will be withdrawn Saturday after the High Court ruled Friday that the boy’s parents cannot move their son to a hospice center.
Justice Lucy Theis denied the request of Archie Battersbee’s parents to move their son from the hospital to a hospice in the latest setback in their effort to keep their preteen son on a ventilator for life support.
The Telegraph reports that Archie’s ventilator will be withdrawn at around 10 a.m. local time Saturday. In her ruling, Theis decided that transporting Archie from the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to a hospice would be against his best interests.
Archie, aged 12, has been hospitalized on life support at Royal London Hospital since his mother found him unconscious with a ligature around his neck at her home in Essex in April. According to doctors, he has remained unconscious throughout his hospitalization.
After Archie’s parents were denied permission to appeal the High Court’s decision by the Court of Appeal they applied to the European Court of Human Rights on Friday. However, the ECHR said it would not intervene in the case.
The child’s mother, Hollie Dance, believes her son’s condition was the result of a TikTok challenge gone wrong. Since June, the parents have been engaged in a legal battle with the hospital against removing Archie's ventilator after doctors diagnosed him as brain-stem dead.
Archie’s parents insist that their son is not brain-dead. Dance elaborated on her belief in a video released by the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing the parents in litigation. “He’s held my hand. I’ve got video of him gripping two fingers,” she said.
On Thursday, Battersbee’s parents asked the High Court to allow them to move their son from Royal London Hospital into a hospice so he could receive palliative oxygen, which would help him breathe if or when his life support is removed.
“If Archie is denied oxygen if and when life-support is removed I will continue to give him oxygen,” Dance said in a statement to Christian Concern. “If they refuse permission for us to take him to a hospice and for him to receive palliative oxygen it will simply be inhumane and nothing about Archie’s ‘dignity.’”
In an interview with Times Radio on Thursday, Dance said she wanted Archie to “spend his last moments” with his family in private away from the hospital.
"We can’t even have the chance to be in a room together as a family without nurses,” she told Times Radio. “There’s absolutely no privacy, which is why, again, the courts keep going on about this dignified death — why aren’t we allowed to take our child to a hospice and spend his last moments, his last days together privately? Why is the hospital obstructing it?”
In addition to pushing back on the doctors' belief that her son is brain-dead, Dance has maintained that “When he is to die, we believe it should be in God’s way and in God’s time.”
Highlighting Dance’s belief that “the whole system has been stacked against us,” Christian Concern said, “the family have had offers from doctors in Japan and Italy to treat Archie and are considering those options.” Dance has indicated that “we will fight to end for Archie’s right to live.”
The legal battle between doctors and the parents began after a judge on the Family Division of the High Court gave Royal London Hospital permission to remove his life support. Archie’s parents appealed the ruling, only for a different judge on the Family Division to once again determine that removing the ventilator was in the child’s “best interest.”
When the Court of Appeal denied their request to appeal the ruling, Archie’s parents took their case all the way to the U.K. Supreme Court as well as the ECHR. In both cases, the courts sided with the doctors over the parents.
In the interim, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities issued an injunction stating that the British government must keep Archie on life support while the Committee reviewed the parents’ allegation that withdrawing ventilation would constitute violations of Articles 10 and 12 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities and Article 6 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Children.
Article 10 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities declares: “States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.” According to Article 12, “persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law.”
Article 6 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Children states that “States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life” and that “States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.”
For its part, the U.K. government has maintained that the U.N. injunction was “not binding.”
Archie’s case has garnered international attention. A GoFundMe page set up to raise money for “EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING” the child and his family may need, including “medical fees, rehabilitation, second opinions, legal advice, [and] home renovations to cope for Archie’s medical needs” has raised over $41,600 (£34,550).
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org