Sen. Chuck Schumer
Sen. Chuck SchumerReuters

The Fixler family and the Jewish community are continuing to fight for the life of two-year-old Alta Fixsler, who has been hospitalized in Manchester, England since shortly after her birth. Following a recent court ruling that the hospital where she is being cared for may remove her from life support, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer became involved in the struggle and managed to obtain a visa for the little girl, whose father is a U.S. citizen.

Two weeks ago, Hamodia reports, Schumer sent a letter to Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the United States, notifying her that he was in the process of securing citizenship for Alta and asking “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.”

“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 last 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.”

Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, one of several Jewish community activists who have been lobbying government officials on behalf of the Fixslers, told Hamodia 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. We now appeal to the British Health Ministry: Please don’t block Alta’s chance to live. 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 added that medical transport to the United States has already been arranged via Jewish philanthropists who have offered to cover the associated expenses. Nonetheless, the hospital is still resisting the plan to transfer Alta, arguing that as “there is no prospect of her ever getting better” it is “more humane” to allow her to die.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel, said in a statement on 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.”

Parallel to this development, ten 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 ten Republican senators, this is now a bipartisan issue,” Margaretten noted. “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.”

Although the battle for Alta’s life is ostensibly about her welfare, it has raised additional questions about the role religious beliefs can be permitted to play in life and death questions. Justice MacDonald, who ruled on the Fixsler case in May, rejected the argument that the parents’ religious rights automatically gave them the right to make vital decisions for their daughter, stating that while her parents might espouse certain positions, it could not be assumed that their daughter concurred.

In addition, referring to a request to allow Alta to be transferred to a hospital in Israel, he noted that he would be taking into account hostilities between Gaza and Israel when reaching a decision on what was in the girl’s best interests.

The case is currently being appealed.