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UK Supreme Court rejects appeal to intervene in Archie Battersbee's life support battle

Archie Battersbee
Archie Battersbee |

The U.K. Supreme Court has refused to allow the parents of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, who have been engaged in an ongoing legal battle to keep their son on life support, more time to take their legal case to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UNRPD).

The parents filed an urgent application to the Supreme Court Thursday after the Court of Appeal blocked them from taking their case to the U.N. However, the Supreme Court refused the parents more time.

Archie is in a coma after suffering brain damage. His mother, Hollie Dance, found him unconscious at home on April 7. She believed he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

Doctors at the Royal London Hospital, where Archie is being treated, say the boy is not showing signs of brain activity, and believe that ongoing life-support is futile. 

His parents, however, want to continue fighting for their son's life. Last week, Dance shared a video that she believes shows Archie attempting to breathe on his own.

The new evidence is part of the reason why three judges of the Court of Appeal decided to stay their decision and allow Archie's parents to apply to the European Court of Human Rights for interim relief. 

The Court of Appeal responded to Archie's parents’ request for a stay of execution order by extending the stay to Thursday so the parents could take their case to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. But that request was denied today. 

Christian Legal Center (CLC), which is representing the family, said the ECHR has a “track record” of rejecting applications in end-of-life cases like Archie’s.

“The U.K. has joined the Optional Protocol to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which permits individuals and families to make complaints about violations of rights of disabled people,” CLC wrote. 

Archie’s parents have been in a legal battle to keep their son on life support since the boy was found unconscious with a ligature tied around his neck in April. 

"All we have asked for from the beginning is for Archie to be given more time and for Archie's wishes and ours to be respected. As long as Archie is alive, I will never give up on him. He is too good to give up on," Dance said in a statement. 

"When he is to die, we believe it should be in God's way and in God's time. What is the rush? Why is the hospital and the courts so keen to push this through as fast as possible?"

"I don't believe there is anything 'dignified' about planning Archie's death. For me, this would be the most traumatic outcome," she added. "Parents need support, not pressure. It is exhausting what we have been through. We should not have to endlessly battle the hospital in the courts for what we believe is right for Archie."

In a July 15 ruling, Justice Anthony Hayden ruled that it is in the child’s "best interests" for his life support to be removed. 

"Where, as here, the treatment is futile, it compromises Archie's dignity, deprives him of his autonomy, and becomes wholly inimical to his welfare," Hayden wrote in his ruling. "It serves only to protract his death, whilst being unable to prolong his life."

Hayden wrote that "arrangements" can be made that will afford Archie the opportunity "to die in peaceful circumstances and in the embrace of the family he loved."

The parents had been granted permission to appeal after an initial ruling last month from a separate judge allowing the Royal London Hospital to discontinue Archie’s care. In that decision, Justice Emma Arbuthnot wrote that Archie is likely dead "on the balance of probabilities."

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