Oscar judges the State Science Fair and offers commentary
We are at the point where, if we hook almost any body up to a machine fast enough, we can keep it 'operating' forever.
So, back when this became possible, we already made the hard call of when we _can_ consider people dead enough to be okay with pulling life support. (Answer: When their brain isn't working.)
But we never really decided 'No, past a certain point, we aren't going to pretend this person is alive even if the people in charge of medical decisions want to'.
Should we make that decision? On one hand, it's pretty creepy to keep dead people alive, and it's often clear that the people making the decisions are living in some sort of fantasy. (There's a reason the first stage of grief is denial.)
OTOH, medical care is inherently personal, and who we let make those decisions is personal, and maybe the state has no business overriding it.
On the third hand...this wasn't some adult who decided 'Under all circumstances, keep my body functioning even after my brain is dead', or even picked someone to make medical decisions that thought that way. Maybe _adults_ have a right to do that. But this is a small child, and it's generally considered acceptable for the state to demand parents provide specific medical care for children even if they don't want to...or forbid them from providing known harmful 'medical care'.
On the fourth hand...this actually isn't a child, really. Not anymore. [Edit: Rereading that, I can see it might imply the case took so long he grew up, whereas I actually meant he's not a 'living child' anymore, because he's dead.] And the care doesn't seem 'harmful'....although that appears to be the origin of what the hospital is trying to do. The hospital put in the request to disconnect Alfie a while back, when he might have hypothetically been suffering. However, the case has been drawn out so long that it seems unlikely there could possibly be any suffering now.
Regardless of where we, as society, eventually come to on this complicated issue...it seems a bit disingenuous to list this as one of 'a thousand cuts' of society not valuing life. In the end, we can only value things if we know what they are, and Alfie seems already to fall outside of what we've decided is 'human life'.