Charlie’s parents should be free to choose how to move forward – not the High Court, not the Supreme Court, nor the European Court of Human Rights.
A particularly sad case has emerged from the United Kingdom. Charlie Gard, born August 4, 2016 to Chris Gard and Connie Yates of London, was diagnosed with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome – a condition that causes brain deformities – in November of the same year. Incredibly rare, Charlie is the 16th recorded case of the disease. Few have survived it long enough to see their teenage or adult years.
A case as tragic (and rare) as this warrants exceptional care and accommodation on the part of the British and European courts, as well as Charlie Gard’s direct physicians. This is not the story of hateful parents starving or abusing a child, nor is it any other example of parental maltreatment: the sort of terrible and heinous crime that has led to the existing substantial government oversight in the parent-child relationship now being abused. Instead, it is an example of parents at their wits’ end: eager to either find someone who can treat their infant, or at least marginally extend his time on this earth in order to spend more time with him. And parents should be able to do just that without the State’s interference.
The reason that an “exceptional accommodation” may be necessary in this case is due to the fact that, despite numerous doctors voicing opposition to the parents’ insistence on seeking further treatment on Charlie Gard’s behalf, the parents should still be granted enough authority in their relationship with their own son to decide how he should live for the remainder of his tragically short life. Of course, they – his parents – are the ones charged with caring for him and making decisions on his behalf — not the State. Were this a case of Christian Scientists refusing their child a blood transfusion to save his life from a curable disease, of course the parents would be wrong and of course the government should step in. But this is not the case at hand.
Considering that Charlie Gard, as previously mentioned, is only the 16th recorded case of diagnosis with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, the British and European courts should consider making an exception in his parents’ case by staying out of their affairs. Charlie’s time left with this parents is certainly limited. The government should just leave him and his family alone for the time being.