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Archie Battersbee: Enough is Enough

To lose a child is an awful thing. Faced with that possibility, which among us could possibly think rationally? Which of us, wanting desperately to cling onto the life of a loved one - a son, no less - would not want to do everything possible to keep him alive?

What the Battersbee case has shown us is that we have a fair, compassionate, and just legal system. Holly Dance - Archie's mother - has been given every opportunity, from the lowest court right up to the United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights, to make her case and to explain why she wished Archie to remain on life support.

And that's just as it should be. If that is what she needs to do in order to come to terms with the loss of her son - to fight - she should be at liberty to do so. And those who have been responsible for Archie's care - the most knowledgeable and experienced of medical experts - should be allowed to explain, from a medical point of view, why keeping him alive was only prolonging his (sadly) inevitable death.

But Holly Dance's call for an inquiry, claiming that she and her family were "stripped of their rights" is a step too far. Enough is enough. When people are incapable of acting rationally, that is the time for our courts to step in. And there is no way a grieving mother can be rational. Her resolve to keep her son alive, no matter what - even when he is clinically dead - is something any and every mother could and does sympathise with. But that's precisely why we need someone else to make the crucial decisions in that situation.

What of those who have cared steadfastly for Archie since the tragic incident that brought about his brain death? What about all those doctors, nurses, and highly-qualified consultants? Do we really believe they would deliberately kill someone off if that person had a chance to live? Of course not. And, I suspect, neither does Holly Dance.

To claim Archie and his family have been "stripped of all their rights" is to do an huge disservice to the medical professionals who did everything they could, and more, to treat him.

Living life involves an acceptance of death. Holly Dance is not ready to accept it, and one can truly empathise with that. But by claiming the system designed to protect Archie's rights is flawed or broken is dishonest. It is not. And one hopes that the first stage in Holly Dance's grieving process will be to accept that, and to apologise to all the NHS staff she has (however inadvertently) just maligned.

Felacia Nelson

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