Charlie Gard, the beautiful British baby with a rare, terminal disease whose life the world watched in despair, passed away Friday. He would have turned one-year-old next week.
His death was preceded Thursday by reports that "A British judge gave the parents of Charlie Gard until noon on Thursday to agree on arrangements for his death with the hospital caring for him, failing which he would be transferred to a hospice where his ventilation tube would be removed."
Charlie's parents had wanted him to stay in hospice for multiple days, so they could say goodbye in quiet and peace. But as that deadline has passed, the parents and hospital were apparently been unable to reach an agreement.
There are multiple lessons to learn from this harrowing story, one that neither parents nor attorneys nor medical experts seem to be able to fathom let alone agree upon.
The first, of course, is the importance of the United States ensuring the state cannot usurp parental rights here, as they were so easily (and well within British law) able to in the United Kingdom.
To do this, it's important to understand the irony -- a generous word, here -- of the U.K.'s legal and medical systems vying for Charlie's best interests, which are at the least, opposite his own parents. Medical professionals both inside and outside Great Ormond Street Hospital maintain Charlie basically deteriorated to the point where any other medical intervention or treatment would have done no good, but they are so hell bent on maintaining control to the bitter end that they will not let Charlie die in hospice as the parents wish.
Both GOSH and the court system want it both ways: They don't want to let him live as the parents wish, with medical experimentation and they won't let him die as the parents wish, after several days in quiet hospice care. (If GOSH is doing one thing, they are consistent in denying the parents literally any rights or wishes regarding their child; he has truly been taken hostage as a ward of the state.)
Clearly Charlie's parents want no harm or pain to come to him -- they are the opposite of abusive -- how does GOSH and the court system in the UK justify overruling literally every single wish of Charlie's parents in his interest? One wonders how GOSH officials can sleep at night knowing they controlled the fate of an infant who, to borrow from Dickens, came so fresh from God and returns less than a year later because of their own authoritarian bend?
Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life tweeted this:
Glenn Foster reiterated the parents of parental rights as it related to treatment in a statement Monday:
[A]s Connie said as she spoke to the court and to supporters, we must remember that if Charlie had been allowed to receive treatment back in November 2016, when his parents originally requested it, there would have been a good chance that Charlie could have substantially recovered and lived a full and complete life. Instead, the hospital and the courts denied Charlie and his parents that chance, leaving their hands tied and a gut-wrenching decision to be made today. Over the last week, we have learned that Chris and Connie knew best, after all - Charlie had a chance.
Another valuable lesson here is the obvious rub in this case beyond the issue of parental rights and that of socialized medicine.
Some might suggest those who feel empathy for Charlie Gard and his parents but who oppose Obamacare or socialized healthcare are hypocrites. Yet these two issues are not mutually exclusive in the slightest. The reason Charlie Gard's parents wanted to bring him to the United States for treatment, and the fact that such experimental treatment even exists for the rare disease Charlie has, is precisely because this country has avoided marching into the bleak abyss of socialized medicine.
(Feel free to interrupt with similar cases where a person with a life-threatening illness is frantically trying to catch a flight to the United Kingdom to be treated there.)
The socialization of medicine leads to a decline in experimentation and progress, not an uptick. Last I checked, people flock to Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, the Mayo Clinic and other reputable hospitals and clinics from all over the globe precisely because our medical system has yet to be fully usurped by a socialized program that, in providing subpar care to all, would reduce quality care to those with desperate medical need.
Finally, there are lessons we can learn from Charlie Gard beyond healthcare and that is what we as a collective, compassionate, but learned humanity will do with a society that seems bound and determined to extinguish the essential structure of the healthy nuclear family.
In any other historical context any time the state begins to intervene, to "know best," to say outright that a child "does not belong to his parents" but is essentially a ward of the state, that government raced toward authoritarianism, with horrifying results taking years or decades to recover, if at all.
The U.S. would do well to heed to the big, important lessons from such a small, voiceless baby that we may never see this case on our soil.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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