Pippa Knight is a brain-injured 5-year-old in the United Kingdom, whose mother has been fighting to keep her alive. Last December, the hospital sought to remove care from Pippa, who has been hospitalized for two years after being diagnosed with acute necrotizing encephalopathy. Her mother, Paula Parfitt, appealed the decision and has been supported in her legal battle by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).
The hospital currently treating Pippa is Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. Doctors there claim Pippa is in a “vegetative state,” a term that is imprecise and often misunderstood. Because of her brain injury, the hospital deemed Pippa’s life not worth living and moved to end care against her mother’s wishes.
Parfitt sought to bring her daughter home on a two-week trial of portable breathing assistance to see if Pippa could spend her days in her home with her family. After losing in court to protect her parental decision-making, Parfitt, with the help of SPUC, appealed the decision.
After losing an appeal, Parfitt said, “I am once again devastated as a result of the judgment of the Court of Appeal today, to uphold the decision that it is not in Pippa’s best interests to have a two week trial of portable ventilation to find out whether she could come home.”
This month, the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom declined to hear the case, effectively eliminating the last possible chance for Pippa to continue receiving care in the United Kingdom. Describing Parfitt as “brave,” SPUC shared communication from the devastated mother. According to the group, “She [Parfitt] asks that people keep Pippa and her family in their prayers. This has been a tremendous effort for the whole family and the legal team who have fought to keep Pippa alive.”
Explaining why SPUC, primarily an anti-abortion organization, became involved in the case, SPUC Deputy CEO John Deighan said, “We have backed this case because we believe that every human life is valuable and worthy of care. Paula has been a heroic example of a loving mother and we want to support her. She is right to expect that our society should treasure every person no matter what their condition of health.” He added, “It is a tragedy that we are powerless before our courts to keep her alive.”
According to SPUC, Parfitt is looking into seeking asylum in Canada where Pippa may be able to receive treatment.
Pippa’s case has significant commonalities with other disturbing anti-Life cases in the UK in recent years. Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans were both young children with complex medical conditions who were denied care. Like Pippa, their families were also prevented from removing their own children from the hospital that refused to treat them and having their children at home or seeking to undergo treatment elsewhere. So convinced were the hospital elites that the children’s lives were not worth living that they would not even allow the children to go elsewhere.
In the case of Charlie Gard, his parents abandoned their legal battle after tests revealed that his condition had deteriorated such that the experimental treatment for which they were fighting would be unlikely to help him. Alfie Evans was removed from life support against the wishes of his parents, and for five days he continued to live, struggling to breathe, and, at one point, being denied even nutrition and hydration.
In Texas, children like Pippa, Charlie, and Alfie are not protected under the law. Life-sustaining care can be removed, even against the wishes of parents. With just 10-days’ notice, children, or adults, in fragile and complex medical situations can be denied care and condemned to die. Texas Right to Life has been on the frontlines of this fight for years, working both as a patient advocate in hospitals across Texas and spearheading efforts at the Capitol to repeal the anti-Life 10-Day Rule.
Because we fought, Baby Tinslee celebrated another birthday. We continue to fight so that other children like Pippa and Tinslee will be able to celebrate birthdays with their families. Contact your state senator today.