By Larry Peterson
Certain things are joined together in perpetuity. This is demonstrated when a president, or any public official, lays a hand upon a Bible and swears an oath to uphold the Constitution and defend life.
The Presidential Oath is administered by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The 35 words of the oath and the words in the Bible are forever embraced by the person who has just taken the Oath. Think about that.
I base my thoughts here on the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence. It reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Notice that the very first right is Life.
I would like to explore two separate cases that have to do with the very question of Life itself.
The first case is about Alfie Evans, the little boy from Liverpool, England. Alfie was denied the right to live by the courts in Great Britain because the doctors did not believe the child could survive his illness.
Alfie suffered from a neurodegenerative disorder that would cause his lungs to fail. The medical experts at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool decided that ventilator support was unkind and inhumane and not in Alfie’s best interests.
Supported by Pope Francis
Thomas Evans and Kate James, Alfie’s parents, fought as best they could to keep their son alive. They even had the support of Pope Francis. The Holy Father actively helped Alfie obtain Italian citizenship in hopes that he might be brought to Italy to receive care there. It did not happen.
On April 23, 2018, strangers wearing medical garb disconnected Alfie from his ventilator. He lived five days gasping for breath and died at 2:30 a.m. on April 28, 2018. Alfie was two weeks shy of his second birthday.
On one side was the medical and government community. The two are intrinsically linked because the government in Great Britain provides healthcare. This is known as socialized medicine.
On the other side were the mother, father, and people of faith. God had no place in the former. People of prayer, including the Pope, were fighting to keep Alfie alive, praying that something miraculous and/or life-saving would enter Alfie’s shrinking world. The secularists could not wait for such Pollyanna wishes to come to pass. Good-bye, little Alfie.
The second case is deals with my wife, Loretta. My wife was on life-support, but unlike Tom and Kate Evans, her family (led by me) could decide when to allow the machines to be turned off. It was not a judge or a doctor or the courts or anything like that. The woman’s immediate family made the decisions.
The end result in my wife’s case was different than in Alfie’s. In our case, God had a prominent role in how we would proceed. And the ending we received was completely unexpected.
Loretta, had been ill for a long time, and on April 6, 2002, she fell into a coma. By that evening, she was on life support. There was a Catholic living will on file for each of us. As long as I was present, I had complete control over life-ending processes.
Although Loretta was a middle-aged adult and Alfie was a baby, the parallels in each case are quite similar.
At the age of seven months, Alfie developed seizures, which caused him to go into a “semi-vegetative state.” Alfie did have brain function, but most doctors agreed that his condition (which they were not sure of) was incurable. Most importantly, his parent’s rights to try to save him were stripped from them by the courts.
The primary difference between Loretta and Alfie was age and size. The similarities were that they each were both God’s individual and unique creations.
Weaning from the Ventilator
Two weeks passed by, and we began attempting to wean Loretta off the ventilator. Each time her breathing would stop in less than a minute. Six doctors told us it was “no-use.” On the third day, my grown children and I gathered together in the small hospital chapel to pray a Rosary. We asked Our Lady and Jesus for their help. My kids then took turns going to their mom’s bedside to say their “good-byes.”
One at a time, they came from that room sobbing like babies. I was last and sat by her side, looking at her, holding her hand, and saying whatever it was I said. Those words I do not remember. I was too busy watching a cascade of memories that suddenly were exploding in my head. It was not a happy time. The bottom line was, we had “Let go and Let God.” We had given it all over to Him.
Unlike Alfie’s parents, I had control over the machine doing her breathing. Three of the doctors were there and the chief-of-staff. I asked them to pray with us. Guess what? They all did.
As my children watched, I gave the order to disconnect the power. The machine was switched off. A minute passed by, and Loretta kept breathing. Then two minutes passed by, and then five, and then ten, and then one hour. The cardiologist said, “Don’t be fooled; she’s not going to make it.”
Three days later, she was up in a room, and three weeks later, she came home. Hospital staffers were calling her “The Miracle Woman of Northside.” Her recovery was not only baffling; it was unexplainable. God gave her back to us for one more year. Cancer killed her on April 4, 2003.
Our “Fortress of Solitude” — God
In Alfie’s case, his parents had no choice, even though they were invoking God along with countless others around the world. The Pope had even secured citizenship for Alfie, and the Italians were ready to transport him to Italy to be cared for.
Unfortunately, in the world of the “nones,” secularists, and atheists, God is not part of the equation. We have been given free will and God shows us alternatives. But we make our choices and He does not interfere. He was not allowed to enter Alfie’s world. In our world – mine, Loretta’s and our kids – however, He was our “fortress of solitude.”
Virtually every court in the U.K. ruled against the parent’s rights. The government and their “experts” knew best. Alfie was doomed to die.
I cannot imagine how Thomas and Kate felt as their child’s Life was taken from them by court order. Thomas and Kate, the man and woman God had given Alfie to, his parents, were dismissed by those in power who “knew best.”
Trust not in Princes
The state took away the parent’s right to protect their child. They subjugated Natural Law and ignored the very nucleus of any thriving civilization – the family. They pulled Alfie’s tube. He lived for five days, struggling to breath on his own. Was that a message from above that those in charge should have tried harder?
Unfortunately for Alfie, his “quality of life” was not deemed worthy of moving forward. Loretta, on the other hand, kept breathing and did use oxygen intermittently. If the doctors were in charge of her breathing apparatus, they might have simply left it off when her breathing failed on the first day.
Unlike the Evans, we were able to make the decision remove the ventilator. And on the third day, she kept on breathing on her own and came out of the coma.
Doctors do NOT know everything. They are definitely not equal to the God who created each and every one of them. They were wrong about Loretta. She lived.
Bible Passages About the Beginnings of Life
Presidents of the United States and many others across the country, from the federal to the local levels, have placed their hands on Bibles and sworn under oath to defend many different things. In so doing, they have joined together both the religious and civil sides of the equation. This is why the United States shouts to the world that we are “One Nation Under God.” The two are inseparable. God’s greatest gift to us all is Life itself. Yet many oath takers become hypocrites by ignoring it.
And so it was on an April day in 2018, Tom and Kate Evans went home and closed the door behind them. They surely realized that little Alfie was gone—permanently. This is the lonely heartache they will forever live with. You cannot understand that unless you, too, have lived it. Their child was taken from them by strangers who permitted Alfie’s life to fade away. That choice should have been left to the parents.
The Bible contains a number of passages that show when life begins. Here are a few:
- Psalm 139:13-14, You formed my inmost being, you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.”
- Jeremiah 1:4-5, ”The word of the LORD came to me: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . . “
- Isaiah 44:2, “Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb.”
And lastly, from Wisdom 14:27, “For the worship of infamous idols [power and money] is the reason and source and extreme of all evil.”