Italy grants Alfie Evans citizenship

“The procedures to pull the plug on Alfie were briefly suspended Monday afternoon”

By Dave Andrusko

Tom Evans and his son, Alfie

Tom Evans and his son, Alfie

ANZA, the leading wire service in Italy, is reporting that Italy has given critically ill Alfie Evans citizenship.

Given the utter determination of Alder Hey Hospital and the entirety of the English judiciary not to allow Tom Evans and Kate James to move Alfie to Italy, it remains an open question whether this will have a lasting impact on the decision to withdraw the 23-month-old toddler’s ventilator.

But the immediate impact is absolutely critical: “The procedures to pull the plug on Alfie were briefly suspended Monday afternoon,” according to ANZA. Here is the lead from today’s story:

(ANSA) – Rome, April 23 – Italy on Monday gave Italian citizenship to terminally ill British toddler Alfie Evans so that he can hopefully be “immediately” moved to Italy from Liverpool, where doctors are set to pull the plug on him, the foreign ministry said. “Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Interior Minister Marco Minniti have granted citizenship to little Alfie,” the ministry said.

“In this way the Italian government hopes that being an Italian citizen will enable the immediate transfer of the child to Italy”.

It would be up to Alfie’s parents to decide his fate if he were moved to Italy, deputy head of the national bioethics board (CNB), Maria Pia Garavaglia, told ANSA Monday. “In Italy, with the living will, we have an explicit law on end of life issues and, as far as minors are concerned, the holders of the right to choose are the parents,” she said. “It is clear that with the acquisition of Italian citizenship Italian law will be applied, so it will be the parents that will decide,” she said.

According to the story, Tom Evans said, “Alfie has been granted Italian citizenship, we are waiting for the Italian foreign minister to call [British Foreign Minister] Boris Johnson.”

Alfano’s gingerly delivered comments illustrate the tricky issue of national sovereignty. He told ANZA that the parents’ wish to bring Alfie to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome. Alfano noted that “Alfie is a British citizen and Italy respects the decisions made in the framework of British national jurisdiction” and that “the British national healthcare system and medical standards are among the highest in the world.”

One indication of how receptive—or not—Alder Hey Hospital may be to the request is the experience of Mariella Enoc, head of the Bambino Gesù Hospital. She told ANZA

she had gone Monday to the Liverpool hospital in order to bring Pope Francis’s “closeness” to his parents. … “I spoke to the parents, I brought them the closeness of Pope Francis, but also of the many parents who find themselves in their situation,” Enoc told ANSA, stressing that she had not been received by hospital management.

“The parents are not resigned, they are doing their utmost to slow the start of the procedure (of pulling the plug), but nothing more can be done.