“Farewell Charlie Gard” is the WSJ’s headline. The British parents wanted a second opinion for their 11-month-old baby, who suffers from a rare inherited mitochondrial disease called MDDS. Here’s what they got from the medical and legal officials: How dare you request a second opinion? Instead, the “state” appointed a guardian for Charlie, and the British court made the final call over an American specialist.
Charlie Gard has come to the end of the line. On Monday his parents announced they are giving up their appeal to have him undergo experimental treatment in the U.S. for his genetic disorder. Their decision came after the doctor who’d offered it said too much time had elapsed and too much damage had been done.
People can disagree with the best treatment for Charlie: The British doctors certainly disagreed with the American specialist the family invited. In a statement defending the British actions that delayed the treatment until it was too late, Justice Nicholas Francis admitted no “parent could have done more for their child” than Charlie’s had done—but went on to say that in Britain “children have rights independent of their parents.”
What does that mean for an 11-month-old baby? It meant a guardian was appointed to make the case against the parents, and that a court made the final call.
In her own statement Monday, Connie Yates, Charlie’s mother, noted that all she and her husband wanted was to “take Charlie from one world renowned hospital to another world renowned hospital in the attempt to save his life and to be treated by the world leader in mitochondrial disease.”
This they could not do, because of a system that elevated a judge’s opinion about what was best for Charlie over loving parents. Few should be surprised, because the brutal reality is that when the state is responsible for nearly all health spending it inevitably takes responsibility for life and death decisions too.
Charlie’s life support was a value judgment, not a medial determination, writes Wesley Smith in NRO. Doctors and the British Court, not Charlie’s parents, decided that it was better for him to die than to get treatment.
When government pays the bills, guess what? And single-payer health insurance is what Americans want?