The boy’s family had applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to intervene as they seek to postpone life-sustaining treatment being switched off for the 12-year-old. But the Strasbourg-based court said it would not interfere with previous rulings by “national courts”.
Wednesday 3 August 2022 22:02, UK
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Archie Battersbee’s parents have suffered a new blow in their bid to stop doctors ending life support for their brain-damaged son after a European court said it “will not interfere” with the decisions of UK courts.
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The boy’s family had applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to intervene as they seek to postpone life-sustaining hospital treatment being switched off for the 12-year-old.
But the Strasbourg-based court said it would not interfere with previous rulings by “national courts”.
His mother Hollie Dance said it was “another heart-breaking development” and she was feeling “absolutely deflated, and so let down… obviously that was our last option”.
“We’ve now got to fight to see if we can get him out of here to have a dignified passing at a hospice,” she added.
“It’s just unfair. The fact is as a parent we’ve got no rights for our children, it’s disgusting.”
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Ms Dance and Archie‘s father Paul Battersbee submitted the application to the court just hours before Barts Health NHS Trust was initially expected to withdraw life support at 11am today.
It came after the pair yesterday lost a bid in the Supreme Court – the UK’s highest court – to keep it going.
His hospital treatment has continued today as Archie’s parents made their latest application – but they were not successful in their legal bid.
The trust had said it would make no changes to his care until outstanding legal issues were resolved.
The child has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother at home in Southend, Essex, in April, and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, believe he is brain-stem dead and say continued life support is not in his best interests.
But his family insist the treatment should continue, saying the youngster’s heart was still beating, and he had gripped his mother’s hand.
Ms Dance has vowed to “fight to the end for Archie’s right to live”.
She earlier said she has been contacted by doctors in Japan and Turkey, who say they have medical interventions that will help Archie recover.
“They (UK officials) are not even prepared to shift on that,” she told reporters this evening.
She also said in a statement that “the whole system has been stacked against us”, adding: “Reform must now come through Charlie’s Law so that no parents have to go through this.”
The ECHR said it would not grant an interim measure to continue treatment and declared the parents’ complaints “inadmissible”.
The statement added the court would only grant such requests “on an exceptional basis” and “when the applicants would otherwise face a real risk of irreversible harm”.
The family’s application did not seek for the ECHR to rule whether withdrawing treatment was in Archie’s best interests, but asked for his rights to be recognised under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
On Monday, the Court of Appeal refused a bid by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities to delay the withdrawal of life-preserving treatment until it had the chance to review the case.
His parents claim that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.
These international obligations say states must take all necessary measures to ensure disabled people enjoy equal rights, and that governments should do all they can to prevent the deaths of children and young people.
Judges have heard Ms Dance discovered her son unconscious with a ligature over his head, after she believes he took part in an online challenge.