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Catholic groups call for rethink following legal disputes around life of Archie Battersbee

by Marcus Jones
Archie Battersbee cropped.png - Banner image
Hollie Dance/ Alamy

The Catholic Church in England and Wales says there needs to be a better way to deal with life issues following the death of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee.

He passed away on Saturday after his life support was removed.

His Christian family had exhausted legal options fighting for his right to be kept alive.

Speaking following his death, they said no one should have to watch their child die by having life support withdrawn - calling it "barbaric".

Calling for lessons to be learnt from this case, Rt Rev John Sherrington lead bishop for life issues for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: "Every step must recognise his inherent dignity as a person created in the image and likeness of God. The process of compassionate accompaniment of Archie and his parents at this time of saying goodbye is so important.

"The recently hard-fought arguments in the courts about Archie's ongoing treatment and care highlight again the need to find better ways of mediation by which parents and health care professionals can reach common agreements and avoid complex legal proceedings.

"Whilst the Catholic Church recognises that there are situations when medical treatment to sustain life is no longer obligatory if there is no hope of recovery, ordinary treatment and care should be provided appropriate to the condition of the patient."

The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is also calling for reform on the issue.

In a statement in response to Archie's death, the Catholic organisation said: "The Centre therefore calls on the Secretary of State for Health to act urgently to bring into force section 177 of the Health and Care Act 2022 [3] which states that:

"(1) The Secretary of State must arrange for the carrying out of a review into the causes of disputes between (on the one hand) persons with parental responsibility for a critically ill child and (on the other) persons responsible for the provision of care or medical treatment for the child as part of the health service in England.

"(2) The Secretary of State must publish and lay before Parliament a report on the outcome of the review, within one year beginning with the date on which this section comes into force.

"The tragic case of Archie Battersbee must lead to reform so that such conflicts can be averted in the future."

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