Good parents do everything in their power to protect their children. But what happens when the government takes that power away?
Once again, the United Kingdom has given us the answer.
Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, a British couple from the Derbyshire region, are grieving the death of their infant daughter Indi, who passed away on Nov. 13 after suffering from a mitochondrial disease. But baby Indi’s illness isn’t what killed her. The blames lies at the feet of the U.K. government.
Doctors from the National Health Service (NHS) determined that Indi’s treatment at the Queen’s Medical Centre could no longer continue, citing concerns about the pain caused by “prolong[ing]” her life. The case went to the Family Division of the High Court in London, where a doctor (unnamed in media reports) reported, “We feel very sad…. We have tried to treat [Indi] to the best of our abilities.” Despite that fatal determination, Indi’s parents felt her life was worth fighting for. “Our daughter responds to us,” pleaded her father, “and on her good days, she is babbling, making noises, moving all her limbs…. We know she is disabled, but you don’t just let disabled people die. We just want to give her a chance.”
That chance was stolen from Indi and her parents. Not only was she denied life-saving treatment from the NHS, but she was also cruelly prevented from obtaining it elsewhere. In her final days, Indi and her family became prisoners of the U.K. government.
Indi was offered an alternative by the Italian government and the Vatican. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni offered not only free health care to the child but even transportation and Italian citizenship. Meloni urged the British government to “defend the right of [Indi’s] mom and dad to do whatever they can for her.” In response, Gregory and Staniforth jumped at the lifeline. They requested that their daughter be allowed to be treated at Rome’s renowned Bambino Gesù (Baby Jesus) Pediatric Hospital, which is “under the jurisdiction of the Holy See.” According to the Washington Post, doctors there offered a treatment that they said “would ‘more likely than not’ enable Indi to survive without artificial ventilation.”
Unfortunately, Justice Robert Peel denied the request, claiming that Indi’s “best interests” would be served by withdrawing treatment — that is, by letting her die in Britain. “I do not think she experiences any meaningful quality of life,” Peel asserted, “and sadly she never will.” Indi’s parents appealed Peel’s decision, but to no avail. Once again, they were denied the right to seek treatment for their daughter, this time by Justice Peter Jackson.
The British pro-life community was outraged. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented Gregory and Staniforth, said, “It is very concerning that a child can be held against the parent’s wishes when they have alternative treatment available.” She added:
Transferring Indi to Italy involves no cost to the taxpayer or the NHS. What is at the heart of this case that is preventing Queen’s Medical Centre from allowing Indi to be transferred to Rome?
Meloni expressed her sorrow at the verdict of Britain’s judges. “We did everything we could, everything possible,” Meloni wrote on Facebook. “Unfortunately it was not enough. Happy journey little Indi.”
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Not the Only Victim
Tragically, baby Indi is not the first such victim of the U.K. courts. Readers may be aware of the heartbreaking cases of Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, two infants who died in 2017 and 2018, respectively, when the NHS blocked their medical treatment against the will of their parents. Charlie suffered from a mitochondrial disease similar to Indi’s; Alfie, a neurological condition. Rome extended offers of treatment to both, and Charlie was even offered an experimental treatment by a New York doctor. The case of Alfie was hauntingly similar to Indi’s, with Pope Francis intervening and the Italian government, the National Catholic Register reported, even sending “a military air ambulance helicopter, fully equipped with medical equipment,” to fly Alfie from London to Bambino Gesù. Alfie and his parents were helpless, blocked by the state from leaving the hospital room.
And the victims are not only infants. Earlier this year, a 19-year-old British teenager with a degenerative disease, identified as “ST,” passed away after being denied treatment. The court had even acknowledged that the woman displayed an “overwhelming desire to live.” (WATCH: VIDEO: Parents Want the Right to Make Medical Decisions for Their Kids)
No amount of suffering and no disability can take away the value of a human being’s life and that person’s right to keep it. Those who deny this right must be held accountable.
Spark of Hope
As for Indi and her family, father Dean Gregory described fighting for his daughter as the catalyst for his own religious awakening.
“When I was in court I felt like I had been dragged to hell,” he said. “I thought, if hell exists, then heaven must also exist. It was as if the devil was there. I thought that if the devil exists, then God must exist.”
It was this realization that led Gregory to have Indi baptized before her death. He plans to be baptized as well. Perhaps his newfound hope is the only appropriate response to such evil.
LifeNews Note: Liliana Zylstra is a student fellow at the Institute for Faith & Freedom at Grove City College, where she also leads the campus pro-life group, Life Advocates. She interned with SBA Pro-Life America during the summer of 2023. The column originally appeared at The Spectator.