Aldo Rocco Vitale at Centro Studi Livatino) –
Archie’s death also brings with it the death of the rule of law, since the law is no longer an expression of the protection of the weakest as a figure of human nature embodied in relationality.
- At 1:15 p.m. on August 6, 2022, the death of Archie Battersbee was legally declared, the teenager who, after suffering serious brain damage, had been admitted to the Royal London Hospital since April, that is, when his mother surprised him with a rope around the neck that had probably been used to participate in a telematic challenge between peers, in those new types of competitions in which participants compete for whoever comes closest to the point of no return, often even reaching the point of no return. death. In recent months, all the resources that the parents have presented – even the ECHR – to challenge the decision of the doctors to suspend their son’s ventilation have been rejected, despite the fact that for years, since 2017, the Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the UN had expressed, in a report dedicated to the United Kingdom, its maximum concern about the extended end-of-life practices in the country, highlighting in article 10 of said report that “the Committee observes with concern how the substitution decision-making process applied in relation to the termination or suspension of treatment and life-sustaining care is incompatible with the right to life of persons with disabilities as equal members and contributing to the society”. The British medico-legal system has accustomed us in recent years to similar episodes, from Charlie Gard in 2017 to Alfie Evans in 2018, from Isaiah Haastrup in 2018 to Tafida Raqeed in 2019, without ever reaching such levels of paradox: doing That a human being who was hospitalized die of suffocation precisely because of the damage caused by the attempted suffocation through self-strangulation!
- With the death of Archie Battersbee, as with that of those who suffered a similar fate, we seal not only the end of a human being, a tragedy that in itself would deserve its own sadness, but also the end of the rule of law, that is, of that conception of the State and of Law according to which the person is a prior and superior moral entity, which cannot be subordinated to state power beyond certain limits, at least not to the point of making the State exercise over it a jus vitae ac necis absolute. Archie’s death also entails the death of the Rule of Law, since the law ceases to be an expression of the protection of the weakest as a figure of human nature embodied in relationality, to become an instrument of legal formalization of its technical and medical suppression. At risk are the minimum and essential safeguards that must be guaranteed for the most fragile, such as all those who for one reason or another are not fit to participate in the economic-productive cycle, or who are fragile themselves, such as babies, the disabled, the elderly, the chronically ill, the terminally ill, etc. Blowing up the minimum protection mechanism that can be guaranteed to people who live in these conditions, also through the rhetorical-legal expedient of the “best interest” criterion, means annulling centuries of sedimentation of the legal civilization based on the person in favor of a conception of law understood exclusively as the pure will of those who exercise power, be it executive, legislative or, as in the case of Archie, judicial.
The Archie case, in short, should awaken a much broader and deeper concern even in the most distracted, far beyond the scope of the individual human case that it represents: it points to the dark path taken by the law in the West, in recent decades in general and in recent years in particular, leading all jurists -at least those who do not doze lazily in the shadow of formalism and the codicil- to ask themselves not so much if, at this rate in some time, the rule of law will continue to exist when all the disabled or non-disabled have been suppressed for their own interest or that of the community, but if a human, fair, free and peaceful coexistence can be imagined after the euthanasia of the Rule of Law itself.