Application to ECHR was expected to be Archie’s family’s last chance to keep him on life support
Archie, 12, has been kept alive by ventilation and medication since he was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April.
His mother Hollie Dance believes that he may have been attempting an online challenge when he suffered brain damage.
Doctors were preparing to switch off his life support at 11am on Wednesday, but it was postponed pending the ECHR’s decision after Ms Dance and Archie’s father Paul Battersbee made a last-minute application to the Strasbourg-based court at 9am.
In a number of cases at the UK’s highest courts, the parents challenged the decision of doctors at the Royal London Hospital, who said that it’s “highly likely” Archie is brain-stem dead and it’s in his best interest for the life support to end.
But shortly after 6.30pm on Wednesday, the ECHR said it refused the parents’ request, adding that it would not “interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from [Archie] to proceed”.
There has not yet been confirmation from Barts Health NHS Trust as to when life support will be withdrawn.
Speaking to reporters outside Royal London Hospital after the ECHR ruling, Ms Dance suggested the legal battle over Archie’s life support was over.
She said she “won’t allow” anything to be done to Archie before his father returns to his bedside at the hospital on Thursday, and vowed to “fight” to get her son moved to a hospice.
After being asked whether this defeat felt different, Ms Dance said: “It’s the end, it was the last thing, wasn’t it, and again our country has failed a 12-year-old child.”
In an earlier statement, she called the decision “another heart-breaking development”.
In a statement, she said: “The NHS, the government and the courts in this country and in Europe may have given up on treating him – but we have not.
“The whole system has been stacked against us. Reform must now come through Charlie’s Law so that no parents have to go through this.
“In a worst-case scenario, we want to take Archie to a hospice, but the hospital has said that we cannot do that despite previous promises.
“We have been told all along that this is all about Archie dying with ‘dignity’. Yet we’re told we cannot take him to a hospice where it’s quiet and we can spend time with him as a family without the chaos at the hospital. We will fight to the end for Archie’s right to live.”
Ms Dance also restated that they had been contacted by doctors in Japan and Italy regarding her son’s condition, adding: “Why can’t we give him a chance?”
Archie’s family’s application to the ECHR came after the Court of Appeal ruled that Archie’s treatment should not continue beyond noon on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court backed its decision on the same day, with judges saying that they have “great sympathy” for Archie’s parents but that there’s “no prospect of any meaningful recovery”.
Archie’s parents had filed an application directly with the Supreme Court – after the Court of Appeal refused to do so.
They asked the UK’s highest court to allow his treatment to continue so the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) could have time to consider the appeal that was made last week.