This content is not available in your region

European court refuses to hear UK boy's life-support case

Access to the comments Comments
By AP
The parents of Archie Battersbee, Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance, outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London, Aug. 2, 2022.
The parents of Archie Battersbee, Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance, outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London, Aug. 2, 2022.   -   Copyright  Jonathan Brady/PA via AP

The European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday refused a request from the family of a comatose British boy to intervene and prevent his life-support treatment from being ended.

Archie Battersbee, 12, was found unconscious at home with a ligature over his head on 7 April. His parents think he may have been taking part in an online challenge that went wrong.

Doctors believe Archie is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.

His parents, Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance, have fought unsuccessfully to get British courts to block the Royal London Hospital turning off the boy’s ventilator and stopping other interventions that are keeping him alive.

The family's lawyers submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg hours before the hospital planned to begin withdrawing Archie’s life support on Wednesday morning.

However, the court said it would not “interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from (Archie) to proceed."

Earlier, Hollie Dance said the family "will not give up on Archie until the end.” She said the family was considering offers from Japan and Italy to treat Archie.

“There’s other countries that want to treat him and I think that he should be allowed to go," Dance said.

The case is the latest in the UK that has pitted the judgment of doctors against the wishes of families. In several cases, including this one, the families have been backed by a religious pressure group, Christian Concern.

Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the rights of the child take primacy over the parents’ right to decide what’s best for their offspring.

The UK Supreme Court said on Tuesday that Archie had “no prospect of any meaningful recovery,” and even with continued treatment would die in the next few weeks from organ and heart failure. The judges agreed with a lower court that continuing treatment “serves only to protract his death.”