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Archive for the ‘Court rulings’ Category

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.

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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.

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Charlie Gard with parents

Days after Kansas achieved a landmark law for parents’ decision-making authority governing hospitalized children, another baby and his parents are losing their fight with a London hospital to bring their ailing son to the U.S. for treatment.

On April 7, Kansas’ Gov. Sam Brownback signed “Simon’s Law,” to insure parents can reject hospital DNR (do not resuscitate) orders for their children. The law was instigated by the parents of Simon Crosier– an infant denied the right to live by a hospital DNR — based on bias against Simon’s life-limiting condition, Trisomy 18.

Simon Crosier

During consideration of the bill, and despite documented evidence to the contrary, there were plenty of denials that hospitals would ever overcall parents’ wishes on treatment to preserve life.

Yet consider this currently-unfolding tragic scenario as reported by the BBC and other UK media.

Connie Yates and Chris Gard’s eight-months-old son, Charlie, has been in Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) hospital since October for treatment of a rare condition that causes progressive muscle weakness. Charlie is believed to be one of only 16 known babies ever to have had this mitochondrial-depletion disease.

As reported by the BBC April 3, there was “no evidence that he is in pain on a regular basis.”

Charlie’s parents have now raised over 1.3 million pounds through a “GoFund Me” campaign to be able to bring Charlie to the U.S. for pioneering treatment called nucleoside therapy.

Ms. Yates said, “the support and phenomenal kindness of countless people has been a source of strength.”

“We just want to have our chance. It would never be a cure but it could help him live. If it saves him, amazing. I want to save others. Even if Charlie doesn’t make it through this, I don’t ever want another mum and their child to go through this.”

But the London hospital won’t let them remove Charlie, concluding there is no “accepted cure.”

The parents took legal action but the High Court sided with the hospital on April 11. The BBC headline was dire, “Doctors can withdraw life support from a sick baby with a rare genetic condition against his parents’ wishes.”

The language used to officially overcall the rights of parents uses now-all-too-familiar terms.

  • The GOSH attorney argued that “world-renowned” experts agreed the child should not be given long-term life support as his “quality of life” is “so poor.”
  • UK doctors have insisted there is no “accepted cure” and Charlie should be allowed to “die with dignity.”
  • The attorney appointed to represent Charlie, said proposed treatment in the U.S. was “purely experimental” and continuing his life support would only “prolong the process of dying”.

Justice Francis

High Court Justice Nicholas Francis of the Family division made the fateful ruling that Charlie be moved from life-support to a palliative care regime and be allowed to “die with dignity.” And even after Justice Francis admitted that experimentation might benefit medical science, he asserted it could not “benefit” Charlie.

Justice Francis had seen Charlie at GOSH, and said it has been his “sad duty” to apply the law relating to disagreements between parents and hospitals. He expressed his “complete conviction” that it was in the “best interests” of the child to let him “slip away.”

But this was no mere settlement about what GOSH could or should provide.

This is an imprimatur on whether a child with a life-limiting condition, once admitted to a hospital, can leave!

On Tuesday, April 25, in the House of Commons, MP Ruth Cadbury spoke up for the plight of her constituents, Charlie’s parents. She urged the justice secretary to use “any powers to intervene…to do the right thing.”

MP Cadbury

The plea was immediately rejected.

Charlie’s parents, Chris and Connie, “are devastated” by the decision, and have until Tuesday, May 2, to file an appeal, said their attorney, Laura Hobey-Hamsher.  “They are struggling to understand why the court has not at least given Charlie the chance of treatment in America.”

The neurologist who would oversee the experimental treatment had testified to the court that while Charlie was in the “terminal stage” of his illness, treating him would be compassionate.

That notwithstanding, the hospital refuses to discharge Charlie and the High Court has decreed Charlie move to “a palliative regime.”

Tragically, British hospitals and government have ruled that Charlie Gard must die.

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stop dismembering posterThe Kansas Supreme Court announced Wednesday that they have scheduled oral arguments for 9a.m. March 16, on the matter of a blocked ban on dismemberment abortions.

It’s been 11 months since the Kansas Supreme Court was asked to review two lower court decisions upholding a temporary injunction against the first-in-the nation Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, passed in April 2015.

The first state court decision was made by Shawnee District Judge Larry Hendricks, ruling in favor of a father /daughter abortion duo, Herb Hodes & Traci Nauser, who had already sued two other state pro-life laws. The second ruling was a split decision from the state Court of Appeals, which settled nothing. While this matter proceeds, all three Hodes/Nauser lawsuits are on hold.

The case before the Kansas Supreme Court is more than just a ruling on one method of abortion because the

legal attack needs the Court to declare a state right to abortion, one more broad and extreme that that created by Roe v Wade.

As described by one appellate court justice, G. Gordon Atcheson, the newly asserted state abortion right would undermine the Kansas pro-life protective laws currently allowable under Roe v Wade.

Kansans for Life agrees with State Attorney General, Derek Schmidt, that there is no such thing as a state constitutional right to abortion.

When adopted in 1859, the Kansas Constitution did not state, nor intend to create, a ‘right’ to abortion. In fact, in that same year, just before the adoption of the Constitution, the Kansas state legislature passed a law making it a crime to kill an unborn child by abortion. This law was in effect for over 100 years.

The Kansas Attorney General urged last February that the injunction be dropped, but the Court bided its time, during which, five justices up for retention election in November narrowly retained their seats. Only one justice had the support of pro-lifers.

The Lawrence Journal World described the issue of the March hearing as a legal challenge over a “law banning a certain type of abortion procedure commonly used in second-trimester abortions, a procedure that abortion opponents call ‘dismemberment abortions.’”

The AP Wire service was more clear when reporting that the case revolves around “a 2015 law that bans doctors from using forceps, tongs or other medical implements to dismember a fetus in the womb to complete an abortion.”

The legal matter is not whether the state legislature’s dismemberment ban was justified, but on the argument that abortion advocates will likely win at trial, when they can assert  a Court ratified state right to abortion as fundamental to women’s liberty interest.

Planned Parenthood had this pat comment yesterday, “We’re hopeful the court will see this for what it is, which is politicians attempting to practice medicine and endangering women in the process.”

Pro-lifers are hoping the Court sees what is always very much overlooked in these reports — the innocent, fully-formed little human beings facing a torturous and unjustifiable death.

What are  the “liberty interests” of those little boys and girls?

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"third world" conditions of inner-city abortion clinic

“sterilization room” of now-closed Kansas City abortion clinic

By a vote of 5-3 today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a  ruling protecting abortion profits above state health protocols.  Struck down are two provisions of HB2, a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers and requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in case of medical emergencies.

Similar provisions are part of a larger pro-life bill under injunction in Kansas.

This ruling was not unexpected because the majority of the nation’s highest Court supports abortion and will go to any lengths to preserve it—even self-contradiction. The Court both affirmed and then undermined this holding (from Roe): “the State has a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion . . . is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient.”

In its pretzel logic the Court now dictates that state regulation must be subject to interpretation of how it might present an “obstacle” to abortion. The same standards any state uses to insure safe medical facilities —under today’s rulings—cannot routinely apply to surgical abortion facilities.

This is ridiculous.

Even disgusting, filthy hole-in the-wall clinics that won’t upgrade their facilities are now –in the Court’s eyes—protected by a veritable “necessity” exemption. Yet the existence of at least two such clinics in Kansas City were a main impetus for the Kansas abortion clinic licensure law passed in 2011.

That Kansas law was ten years in the making, including testimony of patient abuse, abortion malpractice and “third-world” caliber clinics. (read more)

Today’s ruling now guarantees more judges at every level will be involved in scrutinizing duly-passed pro-life laws to decipher whether they will pass muster with the U.S. Supreme Court’s subjective notion of what constitutes an “obstacle” to abortion.

Statement from KFL Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp:

“No one should applaud today’s decision. It shows in the starkest terms the so-called ‘safe and legal’ fantasy for what it always has been: a cover for abortion at all costs. Today’s decision is a real tragedy for mothers and as always, for their unborn children–something most women realize eventually.”

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APpellate court

KS Court of Appeals

The Kansas Court of Appeals majority ruling Friday was a 7-7 tie which means the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act is not voided, but the lower court injunction remains in place and the ban is not in effect.

Seven judges support one appalling method of tearing apart LIVING well-formed unborn babies –due to the novel claim that abortion is included in our state constitutional bill of rights. This is an activist, offensive ruling not reflective of sound analysis.

Seven judges wrote in dissent, disagreeing that the dismemberment ban must stay blocked. Those seven judges included two appointed under pro-abortion Gov. Sebelius, showing that the recognition of the state’s right to prohibit an unbelievably heinous and barbaric abortion method –as the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2007 Gonzales ruling clearly did– is an issue beyond partisan labels.

The resulting split ruling affirms the recent improvement in the nomination of Appellate judges and underscores Kansans for Life’s promotion of reform of the nomination process for state Supreme Court. .

Of the 14 total appellate court members, the newest member was picked with the “federal model” protocol (Kathryn Gardner, part of the dissent) while 13 were picked under the “Missouri plan” method in which:

  • nominees are chosen secretly within a commission whose majority is chosen by a disproportionately tiny group of registered attorneys. The die is cast by the commission chief, chosen last time by 2,500 attorneys–not at all proportionally representative of the 1.7 million registered Kansas voters.
  • nominees forwarded to the governor are chosen with various motivations by the commission with a nod to the policy preferences of the sitting governor (and candidates with recorded donations to the governor), but the choice is forced on the governor, for if he/she rejects all three, the Chief Justice gets to pick one.

Kansans for Life appreciates any judge who respects the rule of law. Our support for judicial selection reform is not about suggesting that it is impossible for a “Missouri-plan” judge to arrive at a correct result– that would be absurd.

Rather, we support reform because increased democratic accountability on the front end of the process builds societal respect for the judiciary. On balance, that is likely to result, over the long term, in more judges who will exercise judicial restraint.

KFL has held this position in support of judicial selection reform since 2005, under Gov. Sebelius– and thus is independent of the existence of a Governor’s policy on abortion because the public accountability rests in the Senate confirmation process.

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abortion lawToday, the Iowa state Supreme Court by a 6-0 vote (with one abstention) ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood’s “webcam” abortion protocol. In so doing, the Court overturned a lower court ruling and their own state medical board.

In this “innovation” (meant to maneuver around a dwindling supply of physicians wanting to perform abortions) pregnant women can obtain chemical abortion drugs without an “in-person” contact with a licensed physician.

The Iowa Supreme Court can only be commended for not claiming to “discover” a right to abortion in the state Constitution–a right that Planned Parenthood argued existed and was even broader than the abortion right created by Roe.

But the pro-abortion bent of this court is clear, in reaching its conclusion that a physician onsite exam created an “undue burden” (which, as a federal “standard” has been variously interpreted since 1992 to practically the breaking point). The Court even cited some oft-repeated abortion industry talking points about the burden of returning for medical checkups, including that repeat trips can aggravate domestic abuse for some women!

The Iowa Solicitor General pressed the point that Planned Parenthood’s own survey could not prove that women’s “access” to abortion was improved after introduction of the webcam protocol.

The Court ruled that, “based on 2013 medical standards and practices in Iowa,” the overturned law supplies only “minimal medical justification.” However, what the Iowa state lawyers wrote on behalf of the  medical board was:

“Abortion-inducing drugs are not over the counter medications. Unless and until such a time when abortion-inducing drugs are no longer required to be dispensed by physicians, physicians must do so within the confines of the standard of care. The Board of Medicine determined the standard of care requires a physical examination prior to dispensing abortion-inducing drugs.”

19 states have passed anti-webcam laws; 15 are in effect, two go into effect in July and Iowa’s has now been overturned.

Kansas’ anti-webcam provision from 2011 is under injunction, but the 2015 legislature enacted a clarification on medical emergencies, now in effect, aimed at getting the injunction removed. (Read more here.)

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