The sad story of Charlie Gard is a powerful reminder why people always have to be vigilant guarding against the abuses of an all-powerful government. Charlie is a ten month old baby boy in London, suffering from a rare genetic disease in the UK. The Hospital treating that precious baby boy made a decision that Charlie’s condition is beyond the capacity of modern medicine to mend and therefore he should die. They would no longer continue to treat him as their efforts will not yield any curative results. These gods masquerading as physicians traversing the hallways of the Great Ormond Street Hospital, decided that if nothing could be accomplished in their operating rooms for young Charlie, then no one else gets the opportunity to attempt preserving his life. Charlie must die without further treatment! The decision was made from on high, and not even Charlies’ parents had a say in the matter. As any parent reeling from the anguish of this death sentence passed on their innocent baby boy can relate, it was a crushing blow. But not even this pronouncement from the deities at Great Britain’s National Health Services was enough for them to abandon hope for their beloved son. The National Health Services were not going to spend another cent in any effort to treat Charlie to save his life, but his parents were going to do everything in their power to raise the funds and get him help. Charlie’s parents refused to accept that all hope was lost. They proceeded to raise over a million dollars to pay for treatment that might save the life of Charlie, but alas even that would not be enough.
A ray of hope set in for Charlie’s parents, the money would allow them to take the boy to the United States to try an experimental treatment that holds the promise of revolutionizing the treatment of the disease. To their horror, Charlie’s parents were told by the gods at the hospital that they would not be allowed to take their own son to the United States for the treatment that may save his life. To be clear, there was no guarantee that the treatment would work, in fact; the odds were against little Charlie, but they had nothing to lose, and more to gain if the treatment did work. Charlie’s parents appealed to the British High Courts for the right to continue seeking medical help for their son. Ladies and gentlemen take a moment to let this register. The government has deemed that they, not the parents are the ones to decide what is in the best interest of the child. Well as it turned out, the British Courts turned down their request, and they appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (notice the name of the court) who also turned down their request. In the end, all of the courts agreed with the Doctors at the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The doctors declared that there was no hope for Charlie even with treatment in the United States. Could anyone imagine where we would be if pioneers in the field of medicine had taken this approach to treating diseases like cancer, diabetes, AIDS, leprosy, polio, small pox and a host of other diseases that were once considered terminal. What if they had all said there is no treatment for any of these diseases, so let us not even try heal them? Who deserves more to try everything possible than those who seemingly have no hope?
The Courts and the Hospital declared that no more medical treatment must be sought and Charlie must now “die with dignity.” The father pleaded with the court to give his son a chance at life, but the they callously said no. Finally accepting the inevitable, Charlie’s parents asked for the opportunity to spend the last moments of their son’s life at home with them, but the hospital also denied that request. Dying with dignity did not include being with his parents who absolutely adored him, and were now able to provide the care for him at home as a result of the money raised. “Dying with dignity” meant having his breathing apparatus pulled by the divine ones at the holy temple of the Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Some have attempted to justify this by saying that there comes a time when people have to accept that nothing can be done for a patient, they should accept the doctor’s advice, and let fate take its course, but parents should be the ones to make these life or death decisions about their children. This is a straight case of parental rights being denied. If parents are not allowed to make these decisions then where does this type of usurpation end? Do doctors only have the right to make these life or death decisions only about little children. Can they then decide that medical care should no longer be wasted on an elderly parent? Where exactly does the power of the bureaucracy and the court begin and end? One judge said: “although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.” So we are expected to believe that a disinterested third party that is an extension of the bureaucracy, would be completely devoid of any type of bias or hidden agenda, and will make a better decision in the interest of the child than the parents. Make no mistake about it, there will be times in situations like this when a parent may be so emotionally overcome by the torment of the situation that they may not make a rational decision, but rest assured that these decisions left in the hands of a bureaucracy are more likely to be fraught with calamity than the decisions of parents. We have seen in places like Belgium and the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal that it is easy for human beings with the power of life and death in their hands to become intoxicated by this power, and abuse what people thought was something based on compassion. Back in January, in the Netherlands, a doctor was cleared of taking the life of a patient against the patient’s will. As the woman’s life was taken, she put up a fight while she was held down by her own family at the doctors request, in order to perform the act of euthanasia. The doctor was cleared because it was determined that she “acted in good faith.” There is currently discussion, as a result of this case, about whether or not doctors should be prosecuted if they are determined to have “acted in good faith” performing euthanasia on dementia patients. You can read about the abuses in Belgium to further see how much of a slippery slope this is. In this article a doctor in Brazil where euthanasia is not even legal is accused of killing over 300 patients to free up bed space. There are too many ethical questions in these issues to treat them so casually, and we would do well to err on the side of not giving these life or death decisions to flawed human beings, because there is simply too much opportunity and room for abuse. If there was ever a situation where the slippery slope argument is relevant, this is it.
The parents of Charlie Gard have shown themselves to be devoted parents, who hold his best interest at heart, and they must be allowed to do what they can to serve his interest. That we in the West have come to such a state, where doctors can tell parents that they are forbidden from pursuing the hope that they see for their child, where there is nothing to lose but perhaps a lot to gain is a sad indictment of how low Western society has sunk. It is a pathetic commentary on the unsteadiness of a moral foundation that has become undone, and is indicative of a culture that has cheapened life, and embraced a culture of death. This callousness about life can be seen in The United States, Europe and countries around the world that have taken to relegating the most vulnerable among us as an inconvenience, and babies in the womb are callously dismissed and disposed of before even getting a chance to fulfill their promise at life, while many self deceivingly use the euphemism “choice” to describe the barbaric act of abortion. Those who call for a pause, for the purpose of examining ourselves and readjusting our moral compass are called extremists, and accused of wanting to take society backwards. This did not happen overnight, we did not suddenly arrive here. It is the result of years spent chipping away at the values that got us to being at the helm of all civilization that has ever existed.
When leadership fails, society becomes like a rudderless ship beating against the unrelenting and unforgiving waves trying to sink it to bottom. Prime Minister Theresa May was asked to intervene in the Charlie Gard situation, and she gave this weak statement in response: “I fully understand and appreciate that any parent in these circumstances would want to do everything possible and explore every option for their seriously ill child”. She added: “But I also know that no doctor ever wants to be placed in the terrible position where they have to take such heartbreaking decisions. No Prime Minister, that is where you are wrong, it is not the doctors’ decision to make! Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also gave a weak statement, saying “It was right that decisions continued to be led by expert medical opinion, supported by the courts, in line with Charlie’s best interests.” People must resist ceding these powers over to the hands of an all-powerful State. It is dangerous!
People in the United Kingdom must be very vocal and loud in objecting to this type of power being transferred from parents, and given to the state. It is a travesty, it is atrocious, it is wrong! We have seen over and over again, contrary to what people like to think, that human beings are not basically good. They must constantly fight the demons that lead them to commit acts like the Holocaust, the killing fields, and the brutality of China’s Cultural Revolution. For the last three hundred years, led by countries like the United States there have been systems in place like at no other time in history that guard against the abuses to which mankind is prone to succumb. We have on numerous occasions seen how through a very slow creep, governments in the guise of good intentions have implemented policies that led to them infringing more and more on the rights of the people, to the point where people suddenly realize, then ask themselves, how we got here. Society must continue to be vigilant in order to prevent the abuses that we know all to well that mankind is capable of committing. It is not unreasonable to ask where this ends, or how far this type of power will extend, and if the same justification that is used to end Charlie’s life will eventually be used in other situations in the name of compassion, or based on the premise that doctor knows best. Anyone who thinks that this is a stretch, may have just a little too much faith in the goodness of human nature.