What does the decision of Charlie Gard say about society today? Parents should have every right to save their children. How did this become negotiable?
I have not heretofore chosen to say much about the Charlie Gard situation, in which the parents of a child with a rare and typically-fatal disease were prevented by the authorities in the British health system from seeking experimental medical assistance which – though without guarantees – might have extended, or even saved, his life, if tried soon enough.
They prevented this even though the family had received more than ample donations to ensure that there would be no cost to the state, and even though the child, Charlie, had been granted permanent resident status here in the States, where doctors waited to do what they could for him.
And at the end, they even prevented the parents from taking him home to die – despite the fact that their argument had been, originally, that he deserved to “die with dignity.”
A British professor of law and legal ethics even went so far as to argue, in an op-ed piece in The Guardian (UK), that “children do not belong to their parents,” asserting that parents have no rights with respect to their children (!!!), only duties – “the principal duty being to act in their children’s best interests.”
Well, even if one buys the whole “no rights” argument – which I emphatically do not – the fact is that Charlie’s parents were attempting to do precisely that: since he was an infant, and not able to speak for himself, they were attempting to give him the best possible fighting chance for survival. In this they were actively, emphatically, and repeatedly hamstrung and blocked by the authorities.
Stemming from these specific circumstances of Charlie Gard, this Maccabee Society article points out the wider implications of this incident, and the precedent it has set. I found this an especially cogent warning:
“The cause for alarm behind the death of Charlie Gard lies in the fact that the court actively stopped the parents from seeking treatment. This marks a shift in attitude from one of permitting a parent to kill his or her child to one that orders the parent to kill the child. This obviously sets a dangerous precedent: if the state does not think it is worth it to save a life, even if it does not bear the cost, it can deny treatment.
“This bodes nothing less than death for so many others, especially the majority who do not have the moral and financial support that Charlie’s parents had.”
It is very far down the “slippery slope” to go from “you must not kill your child” (traditional viewpoint / classical Christian morality) to “okay, you can allow your child to die (‘death with dignity’) / kill your child (abortion) if that’s what you think is best,” to “you must allow your child to die, and you may not seek treatment to prolong his life!”
What are we becoming? May God help us.