A High Court judge has ruled that a London hospital can remove the life support of 12-year-old Christian, Archie Battersbee, against his parents' wishes.
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance, 46, and father, Paul Battersbee, from Southend-On-Sea, have been fighting a legal battle since their son was found unconscious with a ligature around his neck in what is believed to be a tragic accident in April.
Handing down the judgment on Friday, Mr Justice Hayden ruled that it is in Archie's “best interests” for life-support to be removed.
He said: "Treatment is futile, it compromises Archie’s dignity…and serves only to protract his death rather than prolong his life."
Archie's family will now seek permission to appeal. Following the ruling, Archie's mother Hollie Dance said in a statement:
“This ruling is a crushing blow to Archie and his family. With all due respect to Mr Justice Hayden, it is not in Archie’s best interests to die. Planned death is another name for euthanasia, which is illegal in this country.
“The planned removal of the ventilator is definitely the worst thing that may happen from my point of view. I cannot see how this is in any way dignified.
“We disagree with the idea of dignity in death. Enforcing it on us and hastening his death for that purpose is profoundly cruel. It is for God to decide what should happen to Archie, including if, when and how he should die.
“As long as Archie is fighting for his life, I cannot betray him. Until Archie gives up, I won’t give up. I am living every parent’s worst nightmare. There must be change in the NHS and in the court system before another family has to go through what we have.
“We will be appealing this ruling and we ask for your prayers and support.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This is another devastating blow for the family and for Archie. Sadly, however, this is what we have come to expect from the courts in end-of-life cases.
“What Archie’s case has shown is that systematic reform is needed to protect the vulnerable and their families in end-of-life matters. Parents of vulnerable and critically ill children are being put through the mill at the most traumatic moments in their lives when what they need is compassion, support and respect from the NHS and the legal system.
“Behind the back of Parliament and the public, Courts seem to have developed a concept of ‘dying with dignity’ which amounts to euthanasia in all but name.
“These sensitive ethical issues should be debated and determined in the democratic Parliament, not by judicial activists.
“Life is the most precious gift that we have.
“Anyone following this story over the past few months will have seen what it takes to challenge the will of hospital bosses once they have decided life support should be removed.
“This family have fought courageously to get to this point in taking a stand for Archie’s life. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they appeal this ruling.”
On Monday, legal arguments were renewed at the High Court following the families’ successful appeal over a previous high court ruling which said Archie’s life-support should be removed.
Doctors have asked the Family Division of the High Court to rule that it is in Archie’s “best interests” for life support to be removed, resulting in immediate death.
Mr Justice Hayden has presided over a series similar cases involving critically ill children and adults. He is best known for presiding over the 2018 case of 1-year-old Alfie Evans, where he ruled it was in Alfie’s best interests to remove life support and prohibited his parents from taking him to an Italian hospital which was prepared to provide treatment.
At the hearing on Monday, Ms Dance spoke about Archie’s Christian faith, which she believes would mean Archie would not want a planned death.
“Archie was asking me to get him baptised over a few years before his accident, particularly after he started watching a lot of box fights on TV,” she said.
“Many boxers pray for protection when they go into the ring. The more and more fights he’d watch with his brother, the more he would be nagging me to get him baptised. Every time we drove past St Mary’s Church, he shouted out his most predictable line without fail, ‘Mum when can we go and be christened in there?’.”
Therefore, she argued that Archie: “Would feel it is only for God to come and take him out of this world when the time is right for that. Until that time, Archie would want to remain with me and the rest of the family, even without knowing that himself.”
Archie and the whole family have subsequently been baptised in the hospital.