LONDON, July 24, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Charlie Gard’s parents are ending their legal fight to give their baby a chance at life.
After their five-month legal battle with London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the European court system, Chris Gard and Connie Yates say it is now “too late” for any experimental treatment to help their 11-month-old recover.
“Sadly time has run out. For Charlie it is too late,” says the parents’ lawyer, Grant Armstrong. “The parents' worst fears have been confirmed.”
Charlie has a rare mitochondrial disease. His parents raised more than $1.5 million to transfer him to the U.S. for experimental treatment, but British and European courts ruled that his hospital can block his parents' wishes and pull the 11-month-old's life support.
U.S. expert Dr. Michio Hirano examined Charlie for five hours last week. But Armstrong told a UK court this morning that Hirano could no longer offer Charlie experimental therapy after seeing the latest MRI scan.
The parents, said Armstrong, are setting up a new charity to help other children with Charlie's condition. Through that effort they hope his voice “continues to be heard,” he said.
“Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,” Connie Yates told the court today.
The parents insisted, based on consultation with Dr. Hirano, that Charlie had normal brain function in January and could have largely recovered. But, they say, the hospital wasted precious months fighting them in court while Charlie’s muscles deteriorated to the point that treatment was no longer possible.
“There is one simple reason for Charlie's muscles deteriorating to the extent they are in now – TIME. A whole lot of wasted time,” they said.
“This is one of the hardest things that we will ever have to say and we are about to do the hardest thing that we'll ever have to do which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go.”
The case ignited an international debate on the right of parents to determine their children's care, with both President Donald Trump and Pope Francis weighing in on the parents' side.
Great Ormond Street Hospital argued in the courts that treating Charlie would be “futile” and he should be removed from life support because his life was giving him “no benefit.”
Katie Gollop, the head of the hospital's legal team, told the courts: “There is significant harm if what the parents want for Charlie comes into effect. … The significant harm is a condition of existence which is offering the child no benefit.”
The parents disputed the hospital's assessment of his condition, and argued that they should have the final say over his treatment.
According to expert bioethicist Dr. John Haas, the hospital “immorally usurped” the rights of Charlie's parents.
He said Charlie's case involved a decision about whether or not to continue extraordinary treatment, and should have been left to the parents.
“If the parents had actually become abusive of the child, custody could be removed from them and the child would become a ward of the state with the state making decisions on its behalf. But that is not the case here,” Haas, who serves as president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told the National Catholic Register.
Bioethicist Wesley Smith argued that while the Charlie Gard case is similar to other “futile care” controversies, it broke new ground because of the hospital's insistence that they would not discharge him to be treated elsewhere.
“The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing,” Smith wrote at First Things. “And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?”
U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, had introduced a bill to make Charlie Gard a U.S. citizen so he could get the treatment he needed. Today he tweeted his support for the Gard family:
— Rep. Trent Franks (@RepTrentFranks) July 24, 2017