Indi Gregory, a critically ill 8-month-old baby girl from Derbyshire, England, was taken off life support over the weekend. Her family announced her overnight passing on Monday.
Diagnosed with a rare degenerative mitochondrial disease, Indi had won the hearts of the British and global public. Her parents, the Vatican’s pediatric hospital, and even the Italian government waged a desperate campaign to keep her alive.
Indi had been receiving treatment at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, England, before being moved to hospice.
Indi’s doctors had declared that she had no awareness of her surroundings. Furthermore, the treatment she was receiving wasn’t working and caused her pain. The doctors argued that she should be taken off life support and allowed to die peacefully.
Refusing to accept the fate declared by physicians, Indi’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, went to court to keep her life support turned on. They hoped her life might be prolonged with the aid of experimental treatments. They took their legal battles first to the High Court and then to the Court of Appeal in London.
Recognizing her delicate situation, the Vatican’s pediatric hospital, Bambino Gesù, had offered to provide care for Indi. Last week, too, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took the extraordinary step of granting Indi emergency citizenship to fast-track her treatment in Rome, even offering to cover the cost of her medical treatment.
Shortly after these developments, the Holy See Press Office released a statement from Pope Francis, conveying the Pontiff’s concern and prayers for Indi Gregory’s family.
“Pope Francis embraces the family of little Indi Gregory, her father, and her mother; prays for them and for her, and turns his thoughts to all the children around the world who, at this very hour, are living in pain or whose lives are at risk because of illness or war,” the statement read.
Despite all of these efforts, the judges overseeing Indi’s case said that moving her to Italy was not in Indi’s best interests, labeling the intervention by the Italian government “wholly misconceived.” Judges also ruled that her international transfer was “not in the spirit” of the 1996 Hague Convention, which outlines guidelines for child protection issues that are cross-border and which both nations were involved in.
The appeal court judges likewise rejected last-minute efforts by Indi’s parents to allow her to pass away peacefully in the family home.
Indi’s parents had also sought to persuade judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, to overturn the U.K. courts’ decisions, but to no avail.
Indi’s father Dean released a statement after her death, writing:
Indi’s life ended at 01.45am. Claire and I are angry heartbroken and ashamed. The NHS and the Courts not only took away her chance to live a longer life, but they also took away Indi’s dignity to pass away in the family home where she belonged.
They did succeed in taking Indi’s body and dignity, but they can never take her soul. They tried to get rid of Indi without anybody knowing, but we made sure she would be remembered forever. I knew she was special from the day she was born.
Claire held her for her final breaths.
ABC News has called the case “the latest in a series of legal wrangles in the U.K. between parents and doctors over the treatment of terminally ill children,” adding, “British judges have repeatedly sided with doctors in cases where the best interests of the child take precedence, even if parents object to a proposed course of treatment.”
It is difficult to make sense of Indi Gregory’s story apart from an aggressive secularism in the West that has paved the way for widespread approval of practices like abortion and euthanasia. Once upon a time, every child’s life was viewed as sacred. Now, lives like Indi’s are routinely placed in the hands of public officials, and they are subjected to vague, pragmatic concerns for the greater good.
A spiritual perspective on a case like Indi’s would not only have taken the wishes of her family into account, but it would also have allowed for the possibility of divine intervention. Indeed, history is strewn with stories of last-minute miracles and medical cases that defy the odds.
The silver lining—if there is any in Indi’s situation—is that her story did not take place unnoticed. A watching world followed her case in real time, observing the conduct of the elites who decided her fate.
Perhaps her death will prove to be part of the wake-up the West needs to once again embrace the sanctity of human life.
Image credit: Twitter