The Case for Charlie Gard

On July 13, the British government will pull the plug on Charlie Gard, an 11-month old baby suffering from a mitochondrial disease (MDDS), a rare genetic and terminal condition in which he cannot move his arms or legs, or breathe freely. Charlie’s parents want to seek an alternative, last ditch effort to save his life in the United States. The British government has refused this request and denied Charlie’s transport.

Why? Because the UK/EU government decided that Charlie’s suffering should come to an end, and that any effort to save his life would be of minimal chance and not worth his continued suffering.

Dominic Wilkinson, Director of Medical Ethics at Oxford Uehiro Centre said “[S]adly, reluctantly, doctors and judges do sometimes conclude — and are justified in concluding — that slim chances of life are not always better than dying.” Sometimes, the ‘best that medicine can do’ — and the most ethical decision — is to provide comfort and to avoid painful and unhelpful medical treatments.”

That is the prevailing argument by the UK government preventing the parents of Charlie Gard from merely trying to save their son’s life, on their own dime.

Western society should fundamentally disagree with this argument, and here is why:

In the U.S., the government’s purpose is to protect life, liberty and property. This stems from the Magna Carta, the first social contract between people and government, back in 1215.

And yet, the British government, along with the EU, broke the single most important value of western democracy: preserving the life of the innocent.

The most important institution in life is the family. It is the main artery to which all human existence is predicated on, and the only reason why we have a strong, civilized society. Everything that we work towards and everything we build, is so our family and the next generation can have more than we ever had.

In order to have family, we need to secure its protection, and that’s where government comes into play: to provide for the safety and security of our families, when we can’t.

The UK/EU crossed a massive line drawn back in the times of Julius Caesar in order to prove to the world that it reigns supreme and we are subordinate to the elites.

Government should never choose death of the innocent because they claim they know better. That is not their decision to make. We did not make a pact with government in 1215 so they can make these decisions for us. The government has absolutely no place to decide the death of an innocent when it has nothing to lose.

Too often than not, we see tragedies at the hands of a government. North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un starves his people, Syria’s Bashar Al Assad gasses children, and there are still countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Asia who don’t treat women or minorities equally, let alone have their basic human rights protected. But at least we know that they act so heinously so they can maintain or expand their power.

What is the UK/EU reason? That they know better? I don’t care if they do; that is not their decision to make.

This is tyranny at the highest level, and it’s sickening that a western government has sanctioned the death of an innocent baby, at no cost to them, because they deemed they know better.

The British government claims it is looking out for Charlie’s best interest. Who gave the government the moral ground to decide to kill the innocent? It has deviated from its purpose of preserving life, to deciding life.

I’ve heard many arguments as to why the government is right, and its mainly coming from those on the political left. They are quick to attribute this heartbreaking case to assisted suicide and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) requests. This is intellectually dishonest because they deliberately refuse to acknowledge the fundamental difference: the lack of human autonomy.

In assisted suicide cases, the patient living in suffering has made his/her own decision. In DNR cases, the individual delivered on his/her own power an agreement to physicians that they do not want to be put on life support. These are all decisions made by the afflicted individual, either prior to the injury/disease or during its course. Charlie is without human autonomy.

I’ve heard this case argued from the inverse. What if Charlie’s parents wanted an end to their child’s pain and suffering, but the British government refused to let him off life support. Do their parents know better than the government now?

This would be a painful situation for their parents, but at least it is a morally defensible position for a government’s role: to preserve the life of the innocent. The inverse arguments don’t work because government is choosing death over life and not for any reason other than because they deemed they know better.

When is it morally defensible for a government to order the death of an innocent when financial or scarce resources are not in question?

I don’t disagree that this baby is suffering. I don’t disagree that there is a case to be made that his suffering is not worth the minimal chance at life. I don’t disagree with the science. But I do disagree with who is making this decision.

I keep hearing that “dispassionate judges” will make this decision for Charlie. I find it cruel that the EU and UK would leave the best interest of Charlie in the hands of those that would rather see him die than seek a .1% chance of survival, and you should too.

To the dispassionate judge, I leave you with this. Put yourself in Charlie’s parent’s situation. You have the financial means to try to save your son, but can’t because a government decided that death is a better outcome than your attempt to save him. Would you accept that?

Bottom line: UK must release Charlie Gard at the request of his parents. The Government may know better, but this is not their call to make.