July 06, 2017
One month shy of his first birthday, little Charlie Gard's parents should be planning a party -- not a funeral. But that's exactly the horror that faces Chris Gard and Connie Yates if doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital insist on pulling the plug on the baby's life support. Plagued by a rare genetic condition, Charlie has been in an intensive care unit since October. Doctors insist that his condition won't improve and have argued that it's time to end his suffering by ending his life.
In a case that's caught the world's attention, Chris and Connie have fought the hospital all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled last week that the hospital is within its rights to "withdraw life-saving 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." Like most parents, Chris and Connie are beside themselves -- especially since more than $1.68 million has been raised to bring Charlie to the U.S. for an experimental new treatment. All they're asking for is the right to decide what's best for their own child.
Speaking for pro-lifers, FRC's Arina Grossu called on "the British government, the courts, and the hospital to release Charlie. You are holding him hostage. This is a case about parental rights coming into conflict with socialized medicine. Who should decide what's in the best interest of Charlie? His parents. Not the courts. Not the hospital. Not the government."
Hearing their desperate plea for help, both Pope Francis and President Trump have offered to intervene. In a statement on the crisis, the Pope said the parents' rights to treat their son "until the end" should be respected. "To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all." The White House also stepped in the gap, contacting the family to see what can be done. As Donald Trump tweeted, "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so." Even 37 members of the European Parliament have demanded the hospital step back. This decision, they write, "infringes [on] Europe's most fundamental values, particularly the right to life, the right to human dignity, and personal integrity."
With the hashtag #LetCharlieLive lighting up social media, a number of U.S. pro-life groups are speaking out. At noon today, FRC's Grossu joined our friends at March for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, and others for a press conference (video here) to call attention to the controversy. In a joint statement, the organizations let Chris and Connie know the couple didn't stand alone.
"The idea that a government may override and block parents' decisions about the care for a child is horrifying. In past situations of similar circumstances, the patient or their family has always had the option of finding alternative care and that's exactly what Charlie's parents have done. This is their child and they want to use money they have raised from private donors around the world to provide him access to a treatment option that has had some success with a related condition.
It is chilling that the UK court is allowing the London hospital to deny the family this option, or even the option to bring Charlie to spend his last hours at home. Our two nations have a proud and enduring history of protecting individual rights and respecting home and family. We strongly support the offer of our government to assist Charlie and his parents in this exercise of their natural rights."
Charlie was scheduled to be taken off support last Friday, but in the midst of the global firestorm, Chris and Connie were granted more time. Join our allies at March for Life in demanding the hospital let this little boy live. Sign the petition here!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.