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Posts Tagged ‘European Court of Human Rights’

Charlie Gard will lose life-support

Charlie Gard, a little baby on life-support with a debilitating genetic disease, has lost his last court battle. His parents’ heroic battle to bring 10-month-old Charlie to the United States for an experimental medication has lost out to a London hospital evaluation that he deserves “death with dignity.”

A majority of seven judges in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Tuesday rejected, as “inadmissible” the plea by Charlie’s parents to overturn three rulings in the UK court system against their son. The ECHR had agreed to intervene June 19th to maintain Charlie’s life-support in the interest of preventing “imminent risk of irreparable harm.”

However, in its ruling, the ECHR “endorsed in substance” the approach by the UK courts and “consequently… considered that it was appropriate to lift the interim measure” which had required doctors to continue providing life support treatment to Charlie.

The ruling was described as “final” and the full document will be released today.

No official statement has yet been found from the UK Supreme Court, which—due only to the ECHR intervention– had extended legal protection for Charlie’s life support through July 10.

BBC health correspondent Fergus Walsh said it is likely Charlie’s life support machine will be turned off within a few days following discussions between the hospital and his family.

Charlie entered Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in October and was diagnosed as suffering from a form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. Subsequently his parents discovered that 18 people in the United States had been treated with an oral medication of naturally occurring compounds to remedy this rare condition. Reports have not identified the doctor who initially agreed to treat Charlie, but it was noted that his parents were aware that no cure was promised.

ECHR Ruing
The ECHR wrote that the UK courts had concluded, “on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm.”

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, repeatedly rejected the assessment that Charlie was in pain, or that their intended overseas trip would inflict pain.

A spokeswoman for Great Ormond Street Hospital said:

“Our thoughts are with Charlie’s parents on receipt of this news that we know will be very distressing for them. Today’s decision …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. There will be no rush …to change Charlie’s care and any future treatment plans will involve careful planning and discussion.”

STATE USURPS PARENTAL ROLE
The main argument offered by the hospital to countermand parental authority was to protect Charlie’s “best interests.” However, attorneys for Charlie’s parents argued that the hospital was basically holding Charlie hostage, violating several articles under the European Convention on Human Rights, including the rights to life, liberty and family privacy.

Charlie’s first–and last– family picnic, took place on the hospital roof garden

However, the British Medical Association views parental decision-making authority over healthcare treatments for their children as not absolute.

“Where doctors believe that parental decisions are not in the best interests of the child, it may be necessary to seek a view from the courts, whilst meanwhile only providing emergency treatment that is essential to preserve life or prevent serious deterioration.”

Dr. Melissa Moschella, a Catholic University of America philosophy professor, warned the Catholic News Agency that Charlie’s situation

“reflects a euthanasia ideology …that says human life is valuable only if it meets certain capacities… It seems to me completely wrongheaded that the state should be stepping in here when the decision that the parents are making is really aimed at the best interests of the child…It’s not crazy, it’s not abusive, it’s not neglectful. It’s the decision of parents who want to, however they can, to give their very sick child a chance for life.”

There are no media reports yet of any response from Charlie’s parents to Tuesday’s tragic ECHR ruling.

Connie and Chris had already indicated that if Charlie did “not get his chance,” the $1.78 million pledged for his U.S. trip would go towards a charity for mitochondrial depletion syndrome (Charlie’s condition).

“We’d like to save other babies and children because these medications have been proven to work and we honestly have so much belief in them.”

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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.

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