Charlie Gard is a ten-month-old baby who suffers from a rare, crippling disorder called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Baby Charlie is condemned to die. But not because of his condition. No, Charlie will die because a judge ordered that he should.
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, where Charlie is currently being treated, released a dismal statement after the ruling.
“Our thoughts are with Charlie’s parents on receipt of this news that we know will be very distressing for them. Today’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie’s parents as we prepare for the next steps.”
Charlie lives in Britain. The desperately ill child is being treated through the county’s socialized medicine program. Doctors at Great Orson decided that Charlie’s illness was too grave to hope for recovery and he should be removed from life support.
Charlie’s parents had different ideas. The couple scoured the world until they found a specialist in America willing to administer an experimental treatment. They raised over $1 million for the procedure. They weren’t asking Great Orson to continue to care for the child, they only wanted him to be released so they could take him to America.
The hospital refused. Shocked, the family turned to the courts for help. This week, they learned that their attempt to save their baby had failed. A judge ruled that Charlie had a right to die with “dignity,” something that apparently couldn’t happen if he was treated in America.
Abortion is hard enough for many people to swallow. But this, the premeditated murder of a nearly one-year-old child, is horrific.
“Today the European Court of Human Rights Court has by a majority endorsed in substance the approach by the domestic courts and thus declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final. The case concerned Charlie Gard, a baby suffering from a rare and fatal genetic disease. In February 2017, the treating hospital sought a declaration from the domestic courts as to whether it would be lawful to withdraw artificial ventilation and provide Charlie with palliative care,” the ECHR wrote in an official statement.
“Charlie’s parents also asked the courts to consider whether it would be in the best interests of their son to undergo experimental treatment in the US. The domestic courts concluded that it would be lawful for the hospital to withdraw life-sustaining treatment because it was likely that Charlie would suffer significant harm if his present suffering was prolonged without any realistic prospect of improvement, and the experimental therapy would be of no effective benefit.”
The treatment proposed for Charlie is experimental. The court is not justified in saying that there wouldn’t be any benefit. Probably there wouldn’t be, but it’s not impossible that the Americans have stumbled upon a cure. Charlie’s parents deserve to be allowed to try everything in their power to save their baby.
“The domestic court decisions had been meticulous…The domestic courts had concluded, on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering, and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm.”
Surely letting Charlie die is also exposing him to significant harm and suffering. His parents know that taking him to America is a Hail Mary that may not work. However, if Charlie stays in the hospital, he will die and if he’s allowed to undergo treatment he might die. His parents want the best option for him. It sucks that all of the choices are so bleak, but just because a couple of administrators don’t believe in Charlie’s chances it doesn’t mean that hid parents have to give up hope as well.