There is an astounding and, quite frankly, sickening story today out of the UK. It has me wondering if anyone on the entire European continent knows what the words “freedom” and “liberty” actually mean.
10-month-old Charlie Gard suffers from a rare genetic disorder that leads to organ malfunction, brain damage, and more. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London determined earlier this year that nothing more could be done for him and he must be taken off of life support. The parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, disagreed. They want to take him to America to undergo an experimental therapy that a doctor here has already agreed to perform. The parents have raised over $1.6 million to pay for everything—including an air ambulance to transport the infant to the US. All they needed was for the British hospital to release their child into their care.
Here’s where it gets weird. The hospital refused. As one might expect the parents sought legal relief and sued. The case ended up today in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. I had never heard of this court before today. Astonishingly, the Court ruled the parents should be barred from taking their son to the US for treatment.
Think about this. A mother and father who want to try a shot-in-the-dark treatment to save their son’s life cannot do so. Because doctors don’t “think” it will work. I cannot convey the rage this generates in me. The hubris it requires to tell a parent that their child would be better off dead because they don’t think an experimental treatment would work is off the charts. I simply cannot imagine it. There is a 100% chance the child will die at the London hospital. Even if his chance of survival is 1% with the experimental treatment, is that not greater than zero?
NO ONE was going to be inconvenienced by the effort to keep this child alive. The money’s in the bank. Everyone was ready to take this chance, slim though it may have been. Everyone except the doctors at the London hospital. And unaccountable judges from other countries. The parents are not asking the doctors to do anything they would be uncomfortable with. They are simply asking that THEIR child be returned to THEIR custody so they can take one last stab at keeping him alive.
I cannot imagine being a doctor treating what I deem to a terminally-ill child—then looking the parents in the eye and telling them they do NOT have a right to make this effort to save him. What kind of a heartless, cruel bastard would do such a thing? I can only say that if a doctor told me I could not do everything to save the lives of one of my children—that they were keeping custody of my child so that they could let him “Die with Dignity,” that doctor would soon need the services of a dentist. Or an undertaker.
This ironically-named European Court of Human Rights has essentially handed down a death sentence to a 10-month old child. And I see NO potential upside. Is this an extension of the European attitude towards euthanasia? I hope not. I support “Death with Dignity.” Always have. I could not look someone in the eye and tell them they didn’t own their life. But I also could not look a parent in the eye and tell them they had no right to do everything in their power to save the life of their precious son. That would make me a monster.