Charlie Gard: The Tragic Story Of A Little Baby, The Parents Who Love Him, And The Horrendous Order For Him To Die
[guest post by Dana]
As I’m sure most of you have read by now, little Charlie Gard, all of ten months old, has been ordered by the laughably named European Court Of Human Rights, to die. Or as The Washington Post put it: This terminally ill infant will be allowed to die. But first, his parents will say goodbye.:
Charlie has a rare genetic condition and resulting brain damage that has robbed him of his ability to move his arms and legs, eat or even breathe on his own.
British courts decided that Charlie should be allowed to die after a heartbreaking legal battle in which doctors asserted that the child had no chance of survival, and Charlie’s parents argued that there was an experimental treatment in the United States they had not tried. The case was taken all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which declined to hear the case Tuesday, upholding previous court rulings that it was in Charlie’s best interest to withdraw life support.
Unbelievably, the court has condemned little Charlie to death, over the objections of parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates. In other words, the State has wholly usurped the role of Gard and Yates and is acting as Charlie’s parents. And they have decided that Charlie’s life is no longer of value. They have not only ordered his death, but the court also refused to allow his parents to travel with Charlie to the U.S. to receive experimental nucleoside bypass therapy (oral medication, no surgery) which may provide a small chance of helping the baby. It should be noted that Charlie’s parents have received donations totaling around 1.6 million dollars to help with costs. To sum up, the State has stripped the parents of their parental functions, and gone completely against their wishes by deciding – as the surrogate parents – that not only is their son not permitted to receive further help, he must also die at their determined time. This is simply horrific. The gross overreach of power should frighten everyone, everywhere. And it should especially be a red-flag warning to those who continue to foolishly embrace the State as if it were their “father,” while blindly yielding to its insatiable appetites.
Here is the a timeline of the legal battles concerning Charlie:
3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London
11 April: Mr Justice Francis says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment
3 May: Charlie’s parents ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case
23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case
25 May: Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple’s appeal
8 June: Charlie’s parents lose their fight in the Supreme Court
20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents make written submissions
27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene
This past Friday, Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, appeared in a heartbreaking video to let supporters know that Charlie was scheduled to be taken off life support that day. And per the court’s ruling, he was to die in the hospital and not be allowed to return to his home where his his parents could bathe him and hold him close while whispering words of love to him as he passed from this life to the next. They also said that there would not be enough time for relatives to arrive to say their final good-byes to Charlie, nor be there to lend support.
To make matters worse, and to their everlasting shame, the Vatican announced on Friday that it was siding with the courts. Instead of modeling the Love of Christ for the weak and most vulnerable, the Vatican caved. Here is National Review’s Michael B Dougherty’s brilliant takedown of their decision:
Here was a moment for the Vatican to stand up and announce what the Catholic faith teaches about human life and our duties to one another, and the God-given authority of parents over their children. And it was a moment in which such a statement would resound with an attentive audience. It was not to come.
In fact, the statement from Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, patronizes Charlie Gard’s parents even as it distorts their situation and endorses a legal judgment against their wishes that was clothed in the language of euthanasia advocates.
After two paragraphs expressing his admiration for the parents and doctors in this case, Paglia’s statement announces his moral reasoning this way:
The proper question to be raised in this and in any other unfortunately similar case is this: what are the best interests of the patient? We must do what advances the health of the patient, but we must also accept the limits of medicine and, as stated in paragraph 65 of the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, avoid aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family. Likewise, the wishes of parents must be heard and respected, but they too must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation and not be left to face their painful decisions alone. If the relationship between doctor and patient (or parents as in Charlie’s case) is interfered with, everything becomes more difficult and legal action becomes a last resort, with the accompanying risk of ideological or political manipulation, which is always to be avoided, or of media sensationalism, which can be sadly superficial.
Dougherty goes on to note:
Paglia is on solid theoretical ground when he says that there is a judgment to be made, and that it is good to avoid “aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family.” No one is morally obliged to be kept alive by machines all their life, or continue undergoing radical surgeries or procedures that delay death. No one is obliged to empty their entire fortune and the state isn’t obliged to expend the public treasury on uncertain treatment.
So it may be the case that Charlie Gard’s parents would be adding to the suffering of their son by traveling to America with him while he is mortally ill. It may be the wrong decision, but it should still be their decision…
Dougherty is rightfully merciless in exposing their shame in this decision:
But besides being patronizing, the Vatican’s statement is a gross distortion of the situation. It portrays the Gards as acting alongside the doctors, but subject to outside manipulation. The Gards are resisting the doctors. The Gards are not facing “their decisions.” They are facing authorities that have overridden them. The good bishop writes that the Gards “must be heard and respected, but they too must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation.” The people “helping” them to understand are speaking in the euphemisms of “death with dignity.”
Dear God. The very people that should be condemning the atrocious behavior of the State and standing for life on behalf of Christ, are instead deceitfully rationalizing their “concerns” for Charlie.
As I see it, both the Vatican and the State are in agreement: 1) This terminally ill baby does not deserve to live; 2) He cannot contribute to society or to the State and do his part, so therefore, he must die; 3) He has no quantifiable value to the State; 4) The role and responsibility of conscientious parents belongs to the State anytime they deem; 5) The State is right to decide the time and place of death and acting not only as parents but also as God.
As of this morning, here is where things stand:
Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is currently staying, has delayed his removal from life support. There is a question of whether they were influenced by Pope Francis intervening on Charlie’s behalf. On Friday, the Pope tweeted, “To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.” Then yesterday, the Vatican released a statement:
“The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the story of Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” read a July 2 statement issued by Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.
“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”
We should never act with the deliberate intention to end a human life, including the removal of nutrition and hydration, so that death might be achieved.
Allahpundit has retweeted what appears to be testimony from a hearing that was held to decide what was in Charlie’s best interest. During it, the neurologist who who would be treating Charlie in the U.S. is quoted as saying that the therapy “would provide a “small chance of meaningful improvement” in Charlie’s brain function, and that Charlie may be able to interact, smile and look at objects” as a result.
Maybe, with hope and prayer, Charlie might even be able to look at his parents, and smile, knowing somewhere deep inside his soul that they loved him with an indescribable ferocity while fighting valiantly on his behalf.
And finally, this morning President Trump offered to provide help and support for Charlie, tweeting:
If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.
I’ll try to update this post throughout the day if anything changes in Charlie’s situation.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)