European court refuses to intervene in case of British boy on life support

Battersbee was found unconscious at his Essex home in early April. Doctors treating him have said continued life support would not be in his best interests

Reuters
Published : 3 August 2022, 08:13 PM
Updated : 3 August 2022, 08:13 PM

Europe's human rights court on Wednesday refused a request from the parents of a 12-year-old British boy with brain damage to intervene in a decision to remove life support.

The verdict from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) follows unsuccessful appeals by 12-year-old Archie Battersbee's parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee at Britain's highest courts for the child to continue receiving treatment.

Battersbee was found unconscious at his Essex home in early April. Doctors treating him have said continued life support would not be in his best interests.

"The Court ... today decided not to issue the interim measure sought. It also decided to declare the applicants' complaints inadmissible," the ECHR said in a statement following an application on Wednesday, just hours before doctors were scheduled to pull life support.

"Therefore the Court will not interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from AB to proceed."

After the decision, Battersbee's mother said she was "absolutely deflated".

"That was our last option," a tearful Dance told reporters outside the hospital. "I would like him out of here as quick as possible really and in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye."

Britain's High Court ruled in June doctors could withdraw life support for Battersbee, with a judge finding that the child had died at the end of May and citing a "total lack of a prospect of recovery".

His parents appealed that ruling but it was upheld by a new judge. The Supreme Court last week refused permission for another appeal.

The Barts Health NHS Trust, which oversees the London hospital where Battersbee is receiving treatment, had said it would make no changes to his care until outstanding legal issues were resolved.

Dance has said there are other countries where her son could be treated and that he should be allowed to seek treatment elsewhere rather than have his life support withdrawn.

"They are killing an innocent child that could have the potential to recover. It is shameful, it is disgusting," Dance said. "I promised him I would fight until the end and that is exactly what I have done."

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
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