UK judge decries legal tactics used by sick child’s parents

A lower court had previously ruled in favor of doctors.

ByDANICA KIRKA Associated Press

November 10, 2023, 1:57 PM

This undated family handout photo provided on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, shows six-month-old Indi Gregory. Italy’s government on Monday granted Italian citizenship to an eight-month-old terminally ill British girl after a court in Britain upheld rulings authorizing the withdrawal of life-supporting invasive treatment. Baby Indi Gregory’s situation is the latest in a series of cases in Britain in which doctors and parents have sparred over the treatment of terminally ill children. The Vatican’s pediatric hospital, Bambino Gesu, in Rome has offered to care for Indi Gregory. (Family Handout/PA via AP)

The Associated Press

LONDON — A British judge on Friday expressed profound concerns about the tactics of the parents of a terminally ill infant as he refused to allow them to take her home from the hospital to die.

The decision by Court of Appeal Justice Peter Jackson came after the parents of 8-month-old Indi Gregory and the Italian government had sought permission for her to be treated at Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome.

A lower court had previously ruled in favor of doctors who said it was in Indi’s best interests to remove life support and allow her to die in a hospital or hospice.

Jackson said doctors caring for Indi and other critically-ill children had been put in an “extremely challenging” position by the legal tussle and decried what he described as “manipulative litigation tactics” designed to frustrate orders made by judges after careful consideration.

Such actions will not be tolerated, Jackson said.

Indi’s parents have fought to continue life support for their child, who has suffered brain damage as the result of a rare condition known as mitochondrial disease, in hopes that experimental treatments may prolong her life.

But her doctors have argued that Indi has no awareness of her surroundings, is suffering and should be allowed to die peacefully.

The case is the latest in a series of similar British legal wrangles between parents and doctors over the treatment of terminally ill children. British judges have repeatedly sided with doctors in such cases, where the best interests of the child take precedence, even if parents object to a proposed course of treatment.

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