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Judge orders end to baby’s treatment against parents’ wishes

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges
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Connie Yates and Chris Gard hold son Charlie.

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LONDON, England, April 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A UK judge has ruled it is in a child's best interest to “die with dignity” rather than to allow his parents to seek additional medical treatment.

Connie Yates and Chris Gard want to take eight-month-old son Charlie to the United States for treatment of a rare disease. A GoFundMe account has given them enough money to do so. But Charlie needs to remain on life support to make the trip and Justice Francis determined it is in the "best interests of the child" to withdraw his feeding tube and breathing machine.

Charlie has mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which degenerates his muscles. It is extremely rare, with an estimated 20 cases worldwide.

Great Ormond Street Hospital officials, who brought the lawsuit, argued that Charlie's life support should be cut off because his quality of life was "so poor" and experimental treatments would only “prolong the process of dying.”

The boy’s parents said taking their son to the U.S. would not cause him more pain or suffering, but could give him another chance. In any case, their lawyer said parents' wishes should be respected.

"We just want to have our chance," Connie told the BBC. "Even if Charlie doesn’t make it through this, I don’t ever want another mum and their child to go through this."

Nevertheless, Judge Francis ruled against the parents.

“Some people may ask why the court has any function in this process; why can the parents not make this decision on their own?” Francis wrote. “The answer is that, although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.”

Francis based his decision on the assumption of irreversible brain damage.

“Nucleoside therapy cannot reverse structural brain damage," he ruled. "Experimentation cannot be in Charlie’s best interests unless there is a prospect of benefit for him.”

“It is with the heaviest of hearts ... that I find it is in Charlie’s best interests ... to permit Charlie to die with dignity,” the judge decreed.

Charlie’s parents, devastated by the ruling, say they are considering an appeal.

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