Causing a heated international debate, Charlie Gard has presented the world with a big question on human rights.
Where does the human right to life end? Whose decision is it to decide if a child lives or dies?
In baby Charlie’s case, the world wants to know if indeed there is room for disabled persons in the society.
Charlie Gard is an 11 month old baby whose life is at the mercy of the state decision to take him off life support.
The baby was born normal. Later he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder known as mitochondrial depletion syndrome. This refers to a group of disorders that cause affected tissues to suffer from a significant drop in mitochondrial DNA. As result the sufferer experiences weakness in the brain and muscles.
Owing to the disorder, Baby Charlie has an irreversible brain damage.
Doctors of the Great Ormond Street Hospital(GOSH), where the baby is admitted see no point in keeping him on life support but the parents and supporters across the world do not think so.
Sadly, the couple was deserted by the European Court of Human Rights. Consequently they lost their court appeal against the hospital’s decision.
The world has witnessed medical diagnoses that were shamed by the miraculous and unexpected turn out of acclaimed irreparable medical conditions. Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, at this point believe and hope for the best for their child. They are bent on exhausting their options before calling it quits.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates opted for an experimental treatment in the United States.
According to a statement by the hospital,
“Although Charlie’s parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is by law vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests,”
The Pope and the United States have stepped into the matter but the future of Charlie remains uncertain.
The Vatican Radio quotes the Pope saying he prays for the distressed parents and hopes that “their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored.”
Following the pontiff’s message, the Vatican has offered to admit the baby to the Vatican hospital. In the same way, an unnamed American hospital offered to conduct the experimental treatment for free as long as baby Charlie is strong enough to fly to the US.
Similar to the church’s stance against abortion and euthanasia, the Holy Father says,
“To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.”
Another Vatican statement read thus:
“We should never act with the deliberate intention to end a human life, including the removal of nutrition and hydration,”
“We do, sometimes, however, have to recognize the limitations of what can be done, while always acting humanely in the service of the sick person until the time of natural death occurs.”
In support of their decision to prolong baby Charlie’s life, over 80,000 donors have contributed over £1.3 million to take the baby to the US for the therapy.
Regardless of the offers from the Vatican and the United States, Charlie Gard’s life still hangs on a balance.
Recent reports say that the court has not granted the permission for Charlie Gard to be moved outside the UK for treatment. Judges in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London have ruled in favor of GOSH doctors.
The Doctors have extended the time of baby Charlie on life support so that his parents could spend some more time with him before unplugging it.
Supporters have protested against the court’s decision to end the baby’s life. The question now is why the UK is not willing to give the treatment offers a try for Charlie’s sake. According to GOSH doctors ending the baby’s life will put a stop to his anguish.
An unnamed US physician to conduct the experimental therapy however stated that the condition is irreparable. Still, the parents, US, Vatican and thousands of supporters want the available options taken.
Is disability no matter how grave, enough to end anyone’s life? Whose right is it to decide the fate of baby Charlie? Parents or State? Tell us what you think.