By Judie Brown
Eleven-month-old Charlie Gard is currently living on life support in a British hospital. Charlie’s life has become a literal tug of war between his mom and dad and the hospital charged with his care. The power struggle over Charlie’s treatment and his parents’ right to decide what is best for him should never have happened.
Charlie suffers from a rare genetic disorder called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a fatal condition that is perhaps manageable with an experimental protocol that is as rare as the condition itself. Whether or not this treatment can help Charlie remains to be seen.
But the real question is dramatically brought into perspective by a hospital that is arguing about Charlie’s quality of life. At issue is whether or not judges and doctors can make a subjective decision about whether or not to treat Charlie, even if the outcome is negative. However, a couple of days ago the hospital appeared to have had a change of heart, stating:
Two international hospitals and their researchers have communicated to us as late as the last 24 hours that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment.
We believe, in common with Charlie's parents, it is right to explore this evidence. . . .
It will be for the High Court to make its judgment on the facts.
So now Charlie’s fate once again hangs in the balance for a court to decide. Yet those of us who defend life on a daily basis understand that, regardless of the challenges that Charlie faces in his young life, he is fighting for his life. It is for this reason alone that justice should be done.
American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program commented:
It can be very difficult to watch someone you love suffer. People like Charlie’s parents have an incredibly hard cross to bear. And when it comes to helping Charlie, medicine has limits. Though Charlie’s parents are not morally obliged to pursue further treatment for their son, as this treatment may be excessively burdensome on Charlie (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2278), they know they must follow God’s will in how their son is treated. Despite the challenges that Charlie’s case brings to medical professionals, one thing is clear: Pulling the plug on Charlie’s respirator is murder, no matter who does it. Charlie deserves the right to live until God calls him home. Charlie may be near the day that he will die of his terminal illness, but today is not that day.
Precisely! What is at stake here in a very fundamental way is the question of whether or not society understands that every single innocent person—born and preborn—is endowed by God, not the doctors or the court, with a right to life that only He can take back to Himself.
As the National Review expressed:
The European Court of Human Rights has assumed quasi-divine status by claiming it has the right to determine who can live and who can die.
This is apparently what “progress” looks like: barbarism disguised as mercy. It is the logical consequence of a culture experiencing moral decay, for when society does not protect the lives of those who cannot speak for themselves, the throwaway culture thrives.
Or as Flannery O’Connor once said: “In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber.”
The core of this struggle to defend Charlie Gard’s right to live until he dies because of his disease rather than because of man’s arrogance is a battle for moral sanity. The man-made quality of life measuring stick was devised to sanction direct killing, not to nurture, affirm, and love life until it ebbs and dies.
At this juncture in Charlie Gard’s case, let us reflect on St. John Paul II’s words on the value of the human person: “A man, even if seriously sick or prevented in the exercise of its higher functions, is and will be always a man. . . . [he] will never become a ‘vegetable’ or an ‘animal.’ . . . The intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being does not change depending on their circumstances.”
Act now in defense of Charlie Gard:
Pray for Charlie, his parents, his doctors, and the judges.
Sign each of these petitions in defense of Charlie’s right to life!
Donate: Support Charlie’s family as they endure numerous medical expenses.
Post: Use social media to get the word out. If you need clickable Tweets, visit lifedefender.org/2017/07/actions-save-charlie-gard/.
Educate yourself and others with useful tools from the Culture of Life Studies Program, including a one-class unit study for high school students entitled Euthanasia: An Introduction.
Read articles on euthanasia—from a brief history and definitions to legislative policy and loving wills—on the American Life League website.