Charlie Gard’s life was short but all Americans should be thankful he was born. He was the world’s most famous baby for awhile and everyone should be paying attention to what happened to him.
For those of you who’ve been on vacation for the last month, Charlie Gard was an 11-month-old British child who was fighting for his life due to a rare genetic disease. He was on life-support in a London hospital. British medical experts said there was no hope for him yet they refused to let his parents take him out of the hospital. They insisted he must die in the hospital.
Charlie Gard’s situation drew the attention of President Trump, Pope Francis, the British courts and the European Court of Human Rights. The Wall Street Journal editorial board weighed in with their opinion, too:
“It may be that the experts the British and European courts invoke are right, that even with treatment Charlie won’t live much longer than he might with new interventions. But it’s not their decision to make. Or shouldn’t be. Charlie’s mother says the hospital won’t allow her and her husband to bring their boy home, meaning that if he is to die, it will be with the hospital and not at home with those who love him. Which raises a question: Whose baby is Charlie, anyway – his parents’ or the state’s? In this delicate case, Britain’s national care system has elevated technical expertise over parental love.”
This is what happens when you allow socialized medicine into your country. The state becomes the final arbitrator of all healthcare decisions. When further medical treatment is not considered “a good investment”, further treatment is denied. When someone’s life expectancy doesn’t meet government standards, treatment is ended. Even where you will die is determined by the state! When the state is allowed to make these decisions for the family, who’s to say when they will decide that other “abnormal conditions” will not be treated, such as Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, or even hemophilia?
The sordid details of this tragedy are just now being revealed. Despite having loving parents who were willing to take him home and love him until he died, the court ordered a guardian to “represent” the child’s interests, refusing to allow the child to leave the hospital. Bill McGurn, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, says the guardian runs a charity with connections to a sister organization that promotes assisted suicide! Until 2006 this organization was called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
McGurn summarizes the disintegration of society this case represents:
“The essence of civilization is that the strong protect the weak. But Charlie Gard shows that the barbarian no long comes wielding a club and grunting in some undecipherable tongue. These days the barbarian comes as an expert, possessed of all the requisite certification – and an unquestioned faith in his absolute right to impose final judgments about the “quality of life” of other people’s loved ones.”
An American Example
This kind of situation is closer to home than you think. J. J. Hanson is a Marine Corps veteran of the war in Iraq. He was living the American dream with a good job, happily married with an infant son, when one day he suddenly had a Grand Mal seizure. After a series of tests, he was discovered to have a brain tumor, a Grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme. This is one of the worst forms of brain cancer. Neurosurgeons told him it was inoperable and chemotherapy or radiation was unlikely to be helpful. He was given four months to live.
Not surprisingly, depression followed this prognosis. But he is thankful that he does not live in a state where assisted suicide was an option. With his family’s support he pursued standard and experimental treatment options. He didn’t accept the grim prognosis of his initial doctors and committed himself to all available remedies. Fortunately, he lives in a country where people can still get treatment of their condition even when the prognosis is poor.
Today he is three years older and his wife is expecting another baby. He has formed an organization called Patient Rights Action Fund that fights assisted-suicide legislation across the country. Hanson says, “If suicide becomes a normal medical treatment for terminally ill patients, lives will be tragically shortened, as patients who might have outlived their prognoses by months or even years kill themselves prematurely.”
If single-payer healthcare is passed in America we will see children like Charlie Gard and adults like J. J. Hanson denied the treatment they desperately need. We will see the government making determinations of who receives treatment and who does not. We must never let this happen.