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Courts Take Away Parents Rights to Treat Terminally Ill Child

06-30-2017
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The European Court of Human Rights(ECHR) has ruled that the parents of a terminally ill child can't take him to America for experimental treatment, upholding a U.K. court's ruling in favor of doctors who want the baby taken off life support.

Charlie Gard was born with a form of mitochondrial disease, a condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. Doctors in the U.K. say it's time to allow him to "die with dignity." 

His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates fought the doctors in the courts in the U.K. and finally came to the end of the road at the ECHR.

Earlier this week that court rejected their last-ditch plea, meaning that the baby's life support machine can now be switched off. 

Gard and Yates expected Great Ormond Street Hospital to end their son's life support on Friday but the hospital issued a statement indicating that it will give the family more time.  "Together with Charlie's parents we are putting plans in place for his care and to give them more time together as a family," the hospital said.

In the U.S., conservative commentators are outraged by the decision.  Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News columnist Christine Flowers say it's ridiculous for doctors in the U.K. to say that they want Gard to "die with dignity."  In her column this week she wrote "we need to get rid of that insipid, dishonest phrase 'death with dignity' which really just means a swift death that doesn't drain our resources."

Flowers spoke with CBN News about the case and the difference between how the U.S. and the U.K. values life.

Other commentators are noting that the hospital is not even allowing Charlie to die at home with his parents.

"Here's where things get truly insane and barbaric. The hospital refused to give Charlie back to his parents," writes Matt Walsh for The Blaze. "The matter ended up in the courts, and, finally, in the last several hours, the European Court of "Human Rights" ruled that the parents should be barred from taking their son to the United States for treatment. According to the 'human rights' court, it is Charlie's human right that he expire in his hospital bed in London. The parents are not allowed to try and save his life. It is "in his best interest" to simply die, they ruled."

The decision from the ECHR comes after a High Court judged ruled against the trip to America back in April. Three Court of Appeal judges upheld that ruling and three Supreme Court justices dismissed a challenge by Gard's parents.

Katie Gollop QC, for Great Ormond Street hospital, where Gard is receiving care, told the Supreme Court that: "The (alternative therapy in America) would take time and over the weeks and months Charlie would be forced to remain in his parlous condition: he can't see, can't hear, can't cry, can't swallow. He has a mechanism that causes his lungs to go up and down. We don't know whether he suffers pain." 

Richard Gordon QC, who leads the couple's legal team previously told the Supreme Court: "We say Charlie is being deprived of his liberty at Great Ormond Street Hospital."

"They would not wish to do anything that would cause Charlie harm," he added. "The state is not entitled to cause a child's life to be extinguished."

Walsh warns that America is getting dangerously close to setting the same precedent that the U.K. did with this case.

"We already kill hundreds of thousands of children in the womb, and we often speak with admiration of people who make the 'brave' decision to commit suicide. And we already, in many instances, place the authority of the State over the rights of parents. Our education system is built around that philosophy," he writes.

In the wake of the ruling by ECHR, Great Ormond Street has said it would consider the next steps with Charlie's parents and that there was "no rush" to end life support for the baby.
  
"(The) decision by the European Court of Human Rights marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie's parents as we prepare for the next steps," it said.

His parents have raised nearly 1.4 million pounds ($1.8 million) for Charlie's treatment. Yates had said previously that the funds will be used to support children with similar genetic disorders should they lose their case.

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