For those of you unfamiliar with the details of an awful story unfolding in Great Britain, little Charlie Gard is a ten-month baby who suffers from a rare genetic condition. In spite of the fact that he also has brain damage, Charlie is extraordinarily fortunate to have something else, as well—loving parents who refused to give up on him, and instead fundraised nearly 1.4 million British pounds so they could take him to the United States to undergo a therapy trial.
But that was before Charlie was sentenced to death by British doctors—and that sentence was upheld by the courts, culminating in the final rejection of the final desperate appeal of Chris Gard and Connie Yates by the European Court of Human Rights.
And why, might you ask, would a human rights court of all places refuse to allow a loving mother and father do everything in their power to save the life of their little son? Simple. It’s because doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, where Charlie was being cared for, announced that they had decided to turn his life support machine off. When presented with the fact that Charlie’s parents had raised the equivalent of millions of dollars to try and save him, the doctors remained unmoved. It was time, they insisted, to let little Charlie “die with dignity.”
As I’ve written before, “death with dignity” is an insidious slogan that is being used to cull and kill those society has decided are done living, or no longer have lives worth living in the first place. Death with dignity, in the minds of these medical professionals, means those they have decided are no longer worth fighting for must die faster. There is an ugly ideology underlying the slogan—the not-so-subtle insinuation here is the if Charlie is kept on life support long enough to go to America and undergo therapy trial and passed away there, that this somehow wouldn’t be dying with dignity. For Charlie to die with dignity, these doctors said, he must die now.
I cannot imagine how Chris Gard and Connie are feeling right now, after being informed by the European Court of Human Rights that the decision is final, and there is no place left for them to plead for the right to fight for their little son’s life. I cannot imagine how betrayed they feel by the doctors who decided that their prognosis meant that Charlie wasn’t worth the attempts of his parents to see if anything could yet be done for him, even if it was a long shot. I hope that they can at least spend a little bit more time with the little boy they love so much before the end, and hope God will comfort them in their grief.
Their society has betrayed them all.