Cato’s Michael Cannon is Wrong about Baby Alfie

By: Michel Accad

Michael Cannon, director of health care policy at the Cato Institute, has just published a piece where he criticizes conservatives for being “all wrong” about the Alfie Evans case which, according to him “had almost nothing to do with socialized medicine.”

As hostile as libertarians are to government, even we believe government can legitimately order the withdrawal of life support, and prohibit parents from moving a child to obtain further treatment, when that treatment would fruitlessly prolong a child’s suffering – i.e., when further treatment would be akin to torture.

But the court’s decision to prevent Alfie’s parents from obtaining the free care offered by the Vatican had nothing to do with limiting the child’s suffering.

As Cannon himself concedes, neither the court nor the doctors had any way of knowing if the child was suffering or not.  In fact, they were in agreement that the child was in a coma, without any awareness of the external environment (and certainly not subject to a treatment “akin to torture”).

What the court actually argued is that dying was in the child’s “best interests”—even absent pain and suffering.  That specific stipulation comes from recent guidelines by the Royal College of Paediatrics (RCP), which essentially argue that state-employed doctors can, by fiat, assert that a child’s quality of life is poor enough that he or she should die—and must die.

Cannon’s thoughts on Alfie’s case are still “tentative,” he tells us, but not tentative enough to take issue—as a libertarian—with a health care system where a government can forcibly prevent loving parents from providing life sustaining treatment for a sick baby at no cost to the taxpayer.  If the RCP’s guidelines are a perversion of medical ethics, Cannon’s position has got to be a perversion of libertarianism.

Meanwhile, if you would like a sane perspective on the insanity of the Alfie case, below is my latest video with Dr. Anish Koka, in which we discuss this at length.

Originally published at Alert and Oriented 

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