The U.S. has approved a visa request for Alta Fixsler, a brain-damaged, 2-year-old Jewish girl in the U.K. at risk of being removed from life support by a hospital in Manchester against her family’s will, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Friday.
Alta’s family has been waging a public battle to keep her alive. Her mother is an Israeli citizen, and her father American. If Alta is unable to remain on life support in the U.K., the family is hoping to at least be able transport her to Israel or America for treatment.
Schumer sent a letter last week to Karen Pierce, the U.K. ambassador to the U.S., notifying Pierce that Schumer was working on obtaining citizenship documents for the young girl, and urging Pierce “that all health decisions that are against the wishes of the family be suspended until the citizenship process is complete and Alta can travel to the U.S.”
On Friday, Schumer announced that the visa had been secured.
“All the Fixslers want is to follow their faith and get their little girl the best care in the process,” Schumer said in a statement Friday. “The images of little Alta make your heart melt, and to know just how much her parents love her inspires us to do all we can to ensure her best chance. Aside from this federal action of securing a visa, I also offer my most fervent prayers to her and her family.”
A U.K. court had previously ruled that the hospital may remove Alta from life support; the family is in the midst of appealing that ruling. While the parents had argued that their religious rights as Jews allow them to do all that is necessary to keep Alta alive, the judge ruled that it could not be assumed that the young child, who is cognitively impaired, would necessarily accept the same religion as her parents.
Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman of the UJO of Williamsburg, one of a number of Jewish community activists who have been lobbying government officials on behalf of the Fixslers, told Hamodia on Friday that he appreciates “Sen. Schumer and his staff working with us around the clock to help save Alta’s life by obtaining this visa through the U.S. Embassy in the U.K,” and that “we now appeal to the British Health Ministry: Please don’t block Alta’s chance to live.”
Rabbi Niederman said that a medical transport to the United States has been arranged through Jewish philanthropists, and would not cost the British government anything. But the hospital has resisted allowing Alta to leave for treatment, saying it would be more humane to terminate her life support.
“Please allow the child to come to the United States, into the welcoming hands of the Jewish community here, who will do all we can to save her life,” Rabbi Niederman said. “We remind the British government that saving one life is akin to saving the entire world.”
Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel, said in a statement Friday, “The United States government has made a bold statement today: A statement that values life, that values parental autonomy over governmental paternalism, and a statement that recognizes a sincerely held religious belief. We sincerely hope that the U.K. government will respond in kind.”
Separately, 10 Republican senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden last week asking him to “advocate to Prime Minister Johnson on behalf of the Fixsler family.”
Rabbi Moshe Margaretten of Tzedek Association told Hamodia on Friday that the court ruling “that parents don’t have religious-freedom rights as they pertain to a young, disabled child runs contrary to all decent values, and discriminates against the disabled.”
“With the support of the Democratic Senate Majority Leader as well as 10 Republican senators, this is now a bipartisan issue,” Margaretten said. This is about saving a life, which everyone, no matter their politics, should believe in. We ask the U.K. government to similarly respect the sanctity of life and the family’s wishes.”
Updated Friday, July 2, 2021 at 7:41 pm .