This Dec. 19, 2017 file photo shows Tom Evans and Kate James, the parents of seriously ill Alfie Evans, in England. (Philip Toscano/PA via AP file)

The parents of Alfie Evans, the seriously ill toddler at the center of an international health care controversy, are facing the most heartbreaking situation parents can know — the potential death of their child — and the British National Health Service (NHS) seems determined to exacerbate their pain, demanding a “sea change” in the parents’ attitudes before they will be allowed to take their child home to die.

Monday evening, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool removed Alfie’s life support, having diagnosed the child as terminally ill, but despite the doctors’ predictions that he would die quickly, the child has continued to breathe on his own for days.

His parents have engaged in a desperate court battle to take their son to Italy for an experimental treatment — even successfully obtaining Italian citizenship for the child and private donations to cover all costs — but the government has refused to budge.

A judge ruled that Alfie could be allowed home, but again refused to authorize travel to Italy. According to a report by The Telegraph, one of Alfie’s doctors — who is allowed to remain anonymous under British law — testified “that for Alfie to be allowed home would require a ‘sea change’ in attitude from the child’s family, and they feared that in the ‘worst case’ they would try to take the boy abroad.”

Their precious baby boy may die any day, and the doctor has the audacity to complain about the parents’ attitudes? They’re offended this mother and father won’t just sit silently while their child suffers?

As RedState reported earlier today, Tom Evans, Alfie’s father, had complained to reporters that he and Kate James, the boy’s mother, had been treated “like we’re criminals” by the hospital staff, who “hate” them “because I’ve fought against them for so long and I’m right.”

“We’ve done our best to work with them but they have acted so aggressively towards us,” he added.

But with few options and time running out, Evans issued a public statement a few hours later asking the protesters, who have adopted the name “Alfie’s Army,” to stand down and return to their homes so that he and James could “build a bridge” with the hospital.

“We also wish to thank Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too,” Evans wrote. “Together we recognise the strains recent events have put upon us all, and we now wish for privacy for everyone concerned.”

That’s quite a change from his earlier statements. “They treat us like we’re criminals” is not what any rational person would call “dignified” or “professional.”

In order to be granted the “privilege” to bring their own child home to die in the comfort of his home, Alfie’s parents have had to beg for approval and issue this subservient statement praising the very hospital that has essentially held him hostage for months. And the government is still complaining of their worry that these rebellious parents may dare to flee with their child to Italy anyway (again, at no cost to the NHS).

Outrageous.

Remember, this is the very real risk that comes from ceding broad control over healthcare to the government: it’s not enough for the government to set the rules for how your healthcare is managed when they’re paying for it, they want to control you, period.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.