The parents of a two-year-old girl lost their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights this week to block a U.K. hospital from removing her life-support treatment.
The court said in a letter to the parents of Alta Fixsler on the evening of Aug. 2 that it would not intervene following a U.K. court decision that life-sustaining treatment can be withdrawn from their daughter against their wishes.
David Foster, the family’s lawyer, told the BBC that the parents were “extremely disappointed” by the European court’s response.
“We are considering our next steps. The legal route has ended but it is still the case that an agreement could be reached,” he said.
Alta’s parents, who are Hasidic Jews, moved to the U.K. in 2014. Their daughter was born on Dec. 23, 2018, eight weeks premature and with a severe hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
The Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which has treated Alta since birth using mechanical ventilation and a feeding tube, applied to the High Court after her parents disagreed with its proposal to withdraw life-sustaining treatment and transfer the child to palliative care.
Doctors believe that Alta has no chance of recovery and suffers from consistent pain, while her parents do not agree that she is in consistent pain and say that as Hasidic Jews they consider the sanctity of life to be a fundamental tenet.
The parents failed to overturn the ruling at the Supreme Court, the final court of appeal in the U.K. for civil cases.
They then attempted to bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights, an international court that interprets the European Convention on Human Rights, which continues to apply in the U.K. although it has left the European Union.
The case has drawn international scrutiny as her parents are Israeli citizens and her father also holds U.S. citizenship.
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