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Ten month old Charlie Gard is very sick, but he has two awesome champions–his mom, Connie, and dad, Chris, without whom he most certainly would be dead.

Charlie is not only in the unenviable position of being on life-support against the fierce opposition of his London hospital, he is also now at the center of a developing “battle royale” between the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the British court system

At stake are three essential rights for Charlie: to be kept alive, to not be imprisoned [in the hospital] without cause, and to have his health care governed by his parents. These rights are expressed, respectively, by Articles 2, 5, and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights

The UK Courts, however, have defended what seems indefensible:

  • that a hospital can hold a child hostage and overrule a decision by parents to obtain treatment elsewhere; and
  • that a hospital can determine that death is in the “best interests” of a child.

Further complicating matters is the current UK position on BREXIT (the decision to leave the EU) and decades of legal chafing over British laws and “human rights” rulings  that have been overturned by the ECHR.

Here is just one illustration of the swirling controversy. A hearing Monday in the chambers of the UK Supreme Court was to decide whether the ECHR instruction to keep Charlie on life support would– or even could– be followed.

The panel of three Supreme Court Justices (Hale, Kerr, and Wilson) expressed deep frustration. They said, “By granting a stay, even of short duration, we would in some sense be complicit in directing a course of action which is contrary to Charlie’s best interests.” 

In short, preserving Charlie’s life was not in Charlie’s best interest.

It was then pointed out that if the UK Supreme Court refused ECHR’s instruction to maintain Charlie’s life-support, Britain could be guilty of a violation that would remove them from membership in ECHR.

Thus the UK Supreme Court’s hand was forced. It issued instructions that it would not —yet—be lawful to shut off Charlie’s life support.

But whereas the ECHR said life-support should be continued indefinitely until they issue an expedited ruling, the UK Supreme Court did set a finite shut off date–July 10.

DRAMA DETAILED
Charlie is a virtual prisoner of the London Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), but it didn’t begin that way.

In October 2016, at two months of age, he was brought to GOSH and diagnosed there with a progressively debilitating genetic condition called Mitochondrial Depletion Syndrome, or MDS. (see explanatory video)  The condition is almost always fatal and has no proven cure.

Two families of children with MDS gave moral support to Charlie’s parents, as reported in the UK Express. Brit Peter Smith strongly advocated a pioneering oral medication, called nucleoside bypass therapy, which has helped his own son Maxwell.

Americans Arthur and Olga Estopian have been in constant contact with Charlie’s parents, urging that Charlie get the same bypass treatment which also saved the life of their son, Arturito. (read more here)

What has not been well publicized is that after Charlie’s diagnosis, GOSH doctors themselves were open to providing the bypass medication– if their ethics board approved. (see here) GOSH recognized the new therapy as having shown some success in reversing many of the effects of MDS in sixteen patients in the United States.

Attorney Gollop

HOSPITAL BECOMES HOSTILE
GOSH attorney Katharine Gollop has testified that sometime after Christmas, GOSH reversed course about the experimental medication. They determined Charlie had suffered “irreversible brain damage” and “any chance for amelioration for his condition had now gone.”

Connie claims the MRI did not back that up, but by January GOSH wanted to pull the plug on baby Charlie’s ventilator, with the ominous decree that, “every day that passed was a day not in Charlie’s best interests.”

That remains the hospital’s mantra, as repeated in several court venues. GOSH believes Charlie must be in pain and no cure exists to defend his being kept alive. To them, Charlie is literally better off dead.

Not so for Charlie’s parents, who understand it is unlikely their son will be cured, but who disagree their son is in pain. They initiated a public plea to help get him out of GOSH and to the U.S. for treatment provided by “experts” at a “reputable hospital,” according to Connie. Over 110,000 petitions were sent to the UK government in favor of “Charlie’s fight” as the campaign is called, and over 83,000 individuals worldwide made donations to create a fund of $1.78 million for the overseas trip.

When Connie and Chris went to court, the first judge, Judge Nicholas Francis, backed GOSH’s death sentence. Then the British Court of Appeal and Supreme Court backed up Justice Francis’ ruling. It was at that point that the ECHR took the extraordinary step of accepting the parents’ appeal in the interests of preventing “irreparable harm.”

As reported Monday in the SUN , Connie protests the unreasonableness of blocking Charlie from getting his last chance at help:

“…we are being blocked by one team of doctors to go to another team of doctors… other children have had this [medication], it’s natural compounds that all of us produce, it’s not harmful.

UK courts have painted themselves in a legal corner. Reason is against them, the public is against them and now the ECHR has pounced on their authority.

Thanks in large measure to his steadfast parents, the plug has not been pulled on Charlie Gard—yet.

Bittersweet Father’s Day for dad of Charlie Gard, on life-support under court order

It was a bittersweet first Father’s Day for Charlie Gard’s dad, Chris, and his partner Connie Yates. Yesterday they did not know whether their son’s respirator would be shut off Monday night.

But it won’t be shut off for at least three weeks, under rulings from both the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the UK Supreme Court. The latter has ordered life-support continue until July 10.

At stake is whether the UK parents will be able to take their 10 month old son to the U.S. for experimental therapy for his rare and debilitating mitochondrial depletion disease.

Currently, London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has insisted they have deduced Charlie’s “best interests” to be staying on the premises, removing his respirator and being allowed to “die with dignity.”

Today ECHR judges in Strasbourg, France, have ordered that Charlie’s life “must be maintained until such time as the Court makes its decision.” This extends their June 13 ruling which had ordered Charlie’s life-sustaining care be kept going at GOSH only until at least midnight tonight.

Now that attorneys for Charlie’s parents have submitted the required “substantive application” (beyond last week’s emergency interim intervention),  the ECHR will review and rule on the matter.

Furthermore, the Court’s press release states that “in light of the exceptional circumstances of the case, the Court has already accorded it priority and will treat the application with the utmost urgency.” No expected date for a ruling was given other than it will be on “an expedited timetable.”

HOSPITAL STILL HOSTILE
With that in mind–and with GOSH legally challenging the authority of the European Court–a three member panel of the UK Supreme Court that had sided with GOSH just last month, has now ordered life-support to continue so that ECHR may rule.

Connie and Chris have lost two rounds of court rulings and then the UK Supreme Court before appealing to the ECHR, whose direct jurisdiction is the UK government, not the hospital. Charlie’s parents have fought to give their son a chance at an oral-medication treatment regimen in the United States that supposedly has helped at least 18 similarly situated patients.

However Charlie’s parents cannot yet breathe easy as this morning’s Supreme Court hearing shows how hostile the hospital is toward letting Charlie live. Chris and Connie have characterized the hospital’s conduct as “inhuman” and maintain a 24/7 presence.

Charlie posed with unused passport

The public continues its outpouring of support for parental decision-making regarding healthcare for their children. The GoFundMe pledges to pay for the overseas trip for Charlie have continued steadily and now more than $1.78 million is pledged.

As the court battles continue over whether UK hospitals may sentence a child to death, Charlie remains alive.  Yesterday, a touching Facebook photo of him with his passport open was posted by his parents.

But, the sad question remains whether Charlie will ever get to the United States for therapy.

Charlie Gard– with his eyes open– contrasts with UK court narrative

In another last-minute, heart-stopping announcement, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Tuesday that 10-month-old Charlie Gard’s life-support must be continued until midnight on Monday, June 19. The court issued a statement that such aid is needed to prevent “imminent risk of irreparable harm.”

An ECHR statement said a panel of seven judges will examine the appeal by Charlie’s parents. Their judgment will be binding on the UK government.

Charlie is currently on a respirator in London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), suffering from a rare and progressively debilitating mitochondrial depletion syndrome first detected in October of 2016.

Last week, the Strasbourg, France-based court made the initial interim life-saving ruling, pending a full legal application by the lawyers for Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard. The ECHR press release indicated this court, “grants such requests only on an exceptional basis.” Charlie’s life-support had been scheduled to be turned off Tuesday.

The ECHR is an international court of 47 member nations, with each country having one judge, and abiding by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER
Since January, Connie and Chris have battled –with world-wide public support and $1.5 million funds pledged– to have their son released from GOSH to travel to the U.S. for experimental therapy.

Once there, Charlie could receive promising, non-invasive nucleoside bypass treatment, though without any certain guarantee of being cured. Court documents have not released the name of the physician or facility associated with the therapy.

Charlie’s parents begged the courts at the local and appellate levels to force GOSH to release him. Both courts sided with the hospital’s opinion that Charlie just be let to “die with dignity,” rather than acquiescing to parental authority.

On appeal at the end of May, the UK Supreme Court sided with GOSH, but granted Charlie’s life–support until the matter could be filed for review by the ECHR. In what was termed an “extraordinary” interim action by that court, life-support was maintained until today and now has been further extended.

In anticipation of today’s ECHR ruling, British media showed the Gard family in a picnic setting on the hospital roof.  Charlie’s eyes were open.

Connie posted the “eyes-open” close-up image of Charlie on Facebook in rebuttal to the UK Supreme Court narrative last week that described her son as

not consistently able to open his eyes enough to be able to see. Indeed, this leads to the difficulty that his brain is failing to learn to see.”

Lady Justice Hale, of the UK Supreme Court, reads ruling that said Charlie couldn’t open his eyes

This was the information that was read aloud by Lady Justice Hale as the defense for keeping Charlie hostage in London and removing his respirator.

Connie is heard on the official audio tape shouting “you’re lying!” five times at the end of the reading of that ominous ruling, before lawyers escorted her out.

How the ECHR will rule is anyone’s guess at this point, but the fact that it granted the extraordinary step of protecting Charlie and taking a closer look at the UK court decisions is hopeful.

And it is the personal motto of Charlie’s parents that, “Where there’s Life, there’s Hope.”

2017 KC Royals scoreboard ad for Pro-life group, Vitae

Baseball fans at Royals Stadium last Tuesday may have noticed a small plane overhead dragging a mystifying message: ROYALS FANS DESERVE TRUTH — DROP VITAE.

Fans who could recollect no player on the team roster named “Vitae” didn’t give it a second thought.

The banner was fielded by radical pro-abortionists schooled at MoveOn.org calling themselves “UltraViolet.”   It was meant to piggyback on the Kansas City Star report about UltraViolet’s online petition opposing the Royals’ ad contract with the Missouri-based Vitae Foundation.

Vitae (pronounced vee’tay) means “for Life.” The Vitae Foundation has been dedicated to using mass media to build a culture of life and encourage women to utilize pregnancy assistance centers. The Royals scoreboard last week showed a mother and baby with the Vitae group logo.

But that was too much of a threat for UltraViolet. It alleges that Vitae “manipulates the public by spreading extreme, deceptive anti-choice propaganda not only to those seeking reproductive health care options, but also to young children.”

Really? That statement appears to have about as much credibility as the book by Christopher Hitchens vilifying Mother Teresa.

UltraViolet is long on vitriol and short on specific details as to Vitae’s alleged “lies”– despite the fact that plenty of Vitae’s life-affirming messages have been in circulation for 25 years.

Here’s part of Vitae’s press statement — information that never made it into the Star or USA Today– about their activities designed to empower women:

” If a woman in a difficult pregnancy makes the courageous decision to bring her child into the world, Vitae believes she should have meaningful support in making that decision. Pregnancy centers provide that support, and the Vitae Foundation is privileged to work with those pregnancy centers as they support women in making a decision they can live with.”

In fact, Kansas and Missouri have a plethora of “no charge”assistance centers to help women lacking support for delivering their babies.

No local furor has erupted against the Royals’ ad contract with the Vitae Foundation. In fact, most commenters to the local news story echoed these sample sentiments:

Mark M: “Future babies mean future fans. Torn up and killed babies will not be buying tickets or going to games.”

Andy B: “Seeing these pro-abort groups stoop to these levels shows how threatened they are by our message.”

Jeannette K: “Thank you Royals for taking a stand for the unborn with no voice.”

David H: “Royals made the correct CHOICE.”

The Vitae Foundation has developed public service campaigns directing women to real assistance centers where solutions don’t involve abortion.

Now that’s a home run.

Baby Charlie Gard: another last minute reprieve for his life

Thanks to what has been termed an “extraordinary” measure by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, Charlie Gard will not be immediately removed from his ventilator.

The 11th hour intervention puts on hold until at least next week a decision by three members of the UK Supreme Court. Earlier this week those justices ordered that Charlie would remain on the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) ventilator only until today, Friday, as his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, brought a plea asking the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.

The Mirror reported that in an emergency hearing at the High Court, seven judges took up the plea Charlie’s parents filed for “an urgent interim measure to save Charlie’s life under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.” No decision has been made whether this High Court will take the case for review.  A statement from the court said:

“Today, the European Court of Human Rights decided to indicate to the United Kingdom Government that, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, they should provide Charlie Gard with such treatment and nursing care as may be appropriate to ensure that he suffers the least distress and retains the greatest dignity consistent, insofar as possible, with maintaining life until midnight on Tuesday 13 June 2017.”

After Thursday’s UK Supreme Court decision, hospital doctors were ordered to maintain an additional 24 hours of ventilator life-support. “A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights would be binding on the UK Government, rather than Great Ormond Street Hospital,” The Mirror reported.

As many pro-lifers are aware, 10-month-old Charlie’s medical condition is grave. He suffers from a rare, genetically-caused disease, so rare there are only sixteen known cases in the world. Charlie’s parents sought to remove him from the hospital to try “nucleoside bypass” oral therapy in the U.S. But the hospital wouldn’t let Charlie leave, and the courts ruled against Connie Yates and Chris Gard, Charlie’s parents.

Thousands around the world have been riveted to the drama of this young couple devoted to their ailing son.  More than 83,000 have pledged funding for that trip in the amount of $1.5 million.

PARENTAL RIGHTS ON TRIAL
An article yesterday in The Guardian by Owen Bowcott noted that the UK Supreme Court panel of Lady Brenda Hale, Lord Brian Kerr, and Lord Nicholas Wilson concluded, “Established human rights law dictates that the rights of a child should take precedence over the rights of their parent.”

The panel apparently were persuaded by GOSH lead attorney, Katie Gollop, who argued:

“The [alternative therapy in America] would take time and over the weeks and months Charlie would be forced to remain in his [precarious] 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 … the argument being advanced on behalf of Charlie’s parents was that the child should have no voice and it was entirely for the parents to decide. [That’s] dangerous and it’s power without end.”

As many have pointed out, including lawyers for the parents, by adopting GOSH’s claims, the UK Supreme Court is usurping parental rights— claiming that it (with the hospital) is the “voice” for Charlie with the authority to determine his “best interests.”

The public believes that it is actually this erosion of parental authority which is both dangerous and without any end in sight.

As Bowcott reports, attorney Richard Gordon, representing Connie & Chris, had told the UK Supreme Court:

“These are model parents trying to do all they possibly can for the benefit of their child. Their view on what is best for Charlie differs from the court… We say there’s a boundary beyond which the state cannot simply go without the strongest justification.

Charlie’s parents already have the natural authority to make informed decisions to further his life. Six months ago, they wanted to take him overseas to receive oral medication that seems to be successful for treating the mitochondrial depletion syndrome Charlie suffers from. Yet the hospital has restrained Charlie from getting that treatment while he continued to deteriorate—and now they insist he must die!

The question before the European Court of Human Rights over the weekend is whether the government has overreached in making themselves the ultimate arbiter of Charlie’s “best interests.” Attorney Gordon phrased it this way:

The issue is whether the state has the power to intrude on decisions the parents have made in order to mandate that child’s death before it might come to an end.”

Keep praying for Charlie and his long-suffering parents.

Baby Charlie Gard’s parents feel he is a hostage in hospital, backed by courts

The British Supreme Court delivered devastating news today: they will not hold an emergency hearing to overturn a death verdict for baby Charlie Gard.

The top court reaffirmed lower court rulings from April and May that Charlie’s parents cannot remove him from a London hospital, and that life-sustaining measures be stopped so the ten month old boy might “die with dignity.”

BBC legal commentator, Joshua Rozenberg, tweeted that GOSH must not withdraw life-support before 5pm Friday to allow time to make an appeal to European Court of Human Rights.

Rozenberg

Rozenberg reported that Lady Hale, one of three Supreme Court justices reviewing Charlie’s legal appeal this past week, “says parents can’t insist on treatment that’s not in (the) child’s interests.”

The Independent reported that Charlie’s mother “broke down in tears, shouting: ‘How could they do this to us?’ as she was led from the court by lawyers.”

Charlie is being ravaged by a rare, genetically-caused disease (mitochondrial depletion syndrome), detected when he was 2 months old. An alternative “nucleoside bypass” oral therapy is on trial in the U.S. Charlie’s parents decided they wanted that option.

In a valiant attempt to be able to leave the country with Charlie, his  parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have  battled three courts and the famed Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) where Charlie is on a ventilator.

An MRI in January when the baby was five months old detected no structural brain damage. But in February GOSH wanted Charlie’s life support to end and, moreover, prohibited his removal from the hospital.

 “FUTILITY POLICY” BEATS PARENTS’ RIGHTS
Social media proves that the public is outraged at the hubris of the courts in this matter.  This is the same public that raised $1.5 million dollars in a GoFundMe campaign created by Charlie’s parents to fly him overseas for treatment.

In the April Court of Appeal ruling, Charlie was referred to as having “an awful existence.” The Court opined, “[P]arents may lose their objectivity and be willing to try anything” and insisted that the new bypass therapy was “not viable.”

The Court of Appeal rejected the various arguments of Charlie’s lead attorney, Richard Gordon, that the court had no standing to uphold GOSH against parental authority because Charlie was under no threat of “significant harm” from his parents.

The Court nonetheless insists that it is their duty to make a “best interests” assessment which included whether:

  • the treatment causes pain,
  • the medical condition itself is a severe burden, and
  • it is Impossible to derive benefit from continued life.

“Benefit from continued life” and “severe burden” are undefined terms yet they are the lynch pin of the claim the courts are using to end Charlie’s life. His parents do not believe he is in pain, and they have promised not to inflict any. Their rational medical decision has been crushed by the courts’ haughty claim to be the ultimate arbiter of the value in “continued life.”

Back in 2014, another British hospital had forbidden parents from taking the child out of hospital for a new treatment. (read more here) Britain actually arrested (and later released) the parents who took their ailing child out of the country for a successful cancer therapy that Britain is only now this year beginning to offer.

The therapy worked, young Ashya King is alive and well, yet British courts have not learned their lesson.

And Charlie Gard and his parents are paying the ultimate price.

Thousands are anxiously following this drama and praying that the European Court of Human Rights will play a heroic part in it. Stay tuned.

Gov. Brownback signs pro-life Disclose Act

Today, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed Senate Bill 83, the DISCLOSE ACT, into law. He told the assembled audience,

“The dignity of life and the inherent right to life is shared by all people, both born and unborn. The complexities surrounding countless crisis pregnancies are many and varied. Too often women are led to believe that abortion is their only option when it clearly, clearly is not. Regardless of a woman’s ultimate decision regarding abortion, she has a right to know about the provider and their medical qualifications.

The Disclose Act is an important update to the state’s 1997 Woman’s Right to Know Act that dictates basic professional information required on abortion informed consent documents. It passed the Senate 25-15 and the House 84-38. The bill had many sponsors in both chambers, and the strong support of the three practicing physicians who are state reps.

The Disclose Act is a response to the fact Kansas abortion clinics minimize and undermine state-required information they find unfavorable to the abortion sale.

During debate about SB 83, pro-life Senators committed their support of SB 83 into the formal record:

“Before this legislation in Kansas, there was no way for women to know when a clinic had a 100% turnover of their staff in 3 years, or about the recent hire of a 76-year-old neurologist that would give abortions but has not had ob-gyn training, or many other various issues that could endanger their health…. Because of the nature of abortion, however, which causes women to want privacy for a variety of reasons, women need ready access to this information to make the best decisions for their care.”

Specifically, SB 83 requires that professional data for each abortionist be listed on the consent form, including:

  • any negative disciplinary actions from the State Healing Arts Board,
  • state of residency,
  • year medical degree attained,
  • when employment at this clinic began,
  • status of local hospital privileges,
  • malpractice insurance.

Abortions in Kansas are mostly obtained with only an email or phone contact; no medical referral or office visit is required. 65% of abortions in Kansas are being obtained for the first time, meaning those women have no concept of the procedure or knowledge of the skill of the practitioners.

Moreover, in Kansas, women don’t “choose” an abortionist; they are assigned one. In fact, contrary to legislative intent, women are instructed to download the clinic form at home and sign “consent” to a list of all potential abortionists on staff.

CLINICS BURY DISFAVORED INFO
Kansas abortion clinics all design their online consent forms with the sections of state-required data that they deem unfavorable formatted in reduced font size and hard-to-read ink color. This is in addition to negative comments about the validity of the required information.

At least one clinic alters the legal wording of a state-required live link to the state Health Department and buries it amidst pages of clinic information instead of placing it on the clinic website home page!

The Media Research Center reported yesterday that the Disclose Act,

“will give women more information on the doctors about to perform their abortion procedures…but the new regulation has inspired a leftist freak-out…obsessed with the bill’s font size requirement. It makes total sense that the state [legislature] would require a specific font size in order to prevent providers from trying to circumvent the law by using minute, unreadable lettering. If the purpose of the bill is to ensure women are able to make an informed decision, it needs to make sure the women are actually informed (i.e. they can read the information they are given).”