July 11, 2017

US pro-lifers should butt out of Charlie Gard case

US pro-lifers should butt out of Charlie Gard case

Andre Walker asks how the court, the hospital or the parents of Charlie Gard are assisted by the presence of people like the Reverend Jim Mahoney, a US pro-life campaigner.

There are many things I love about America: free speech, belief in individual rights and the dream that anyone can make it to the top. But there is one thing that is a stain on the USA, and that is the venom with which the debate over the right to life takes on.

If the desire is for dignity in death, then perhaps a start might be to have some dignity in life, I see little evidence of that from the protagonists in this debate.

On Thursday, the parents on Charlie Gard will go to the High Court in London to try to overturn the decision to withdraw his treatment. It is pretty clear to me that everyone involved in the case wants what is best for Charlie, the court will decide which of these competing views is correct.

It is important to understand that, for better or worse, Britain has a socialised system of healthcare so neither the parents nor the hospital will pay for the treatment. The taxpayer will be handed the bill either way.

I make this point because it is important to understand the doctors who want to withdraw treatment have absolutely no vested interest in doing so. This is not some sort of evil cabal that would see a child die to save money.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) considered giving this treatment to Charlie through the taxpayer. When they concluded (rightly or wrongly) it would not work Charlie’s parents raised enough money to do it in America.

The question is whether the treatment will work, there would be no point in putting this child through the pain of travel if it was clear the trip would be a waste of time. So far the courts have ruled the trip would be futile, but the Vatican doctors have produced new evidence. This is what the court will consider, and it will do so because GOSH itself referred the case back after the Vatican letter.

The presiding judge, Mr Justice Francis, said it would take “drastic” new evidence for him to change his decision not to allow Charlie to be flown to the US. He also said: “I have to decide this case not on the basis of tweets, not on the basis of what might be said in the press, or to the press.” He pledged not to be swayed by anything other than the law, and the medical evidence presented… and quite right too.

It is quite legitimate for President Trump and The Pope to make clear the USA and the Vatican would assist if called upon. They are heads of state of the two countries that would provide the treatment for if Charlie is able to leave the country.

But who are the rest of these hangers-on standing outside the High Court shouting the odds?

They are pro-life campaigners who think the quality of debate on this subject in America is satisfactory, I disagree. I cannot see how the court, the hospital or the parents are assisted by the presence of people like the Reverend Jim Mahoney, a US pro-life campaigner.

Earlier this week he was banned from performing religious ceremonies at Charlie’s bedside, but that hasn’t stopped him taking to the media to push his views. He has successfully framed the debate as a battle between those who do not respect life and those who do. His backers are also talking about making Charlie an American national, something that would make absolutely no difference to Charlie’s legal status in Britain.

I suspect on Thursday Mahoney plans to do a lot more shouting, and perhaps even bully the medical professionals who are attempting to do their job. Those of us who are pro-life and British do not want a war over this subject. We want to calmly attempt to assist parents in making abortion the last resort that rarely happens.

This campaign is only hindered by American crazies like Mahoney. And in any case the Charlie Gard case isn’t a pro-life issue, it’s a complex debate about what treatment (if any) will be the most beneficial for a very sick little boy.

So, with the greatest of respect, I must say to the American right: Butt out of the Charlie Gard case. And take Mahoney back to the USA with you!

2.47 avg. rating (51% score) - 15 votes
Andre Walker
Andre Walker
Andre Walker is lobby correspondent and columnist for the New York Observer. He covers the work of the British Parliament and Prime Minister. Before joining The New York Observer he was part of the team that established Breitbart London.
  • therealguyfaux ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    It would appear that the main objection to the intervention of the (granted, possibly self-aggrandizing) Mahoney is “Ewww! American anti-abortion cooties!”

    The American pro-life movement has been involved with other matters besides abortion, notably the Terri Schiavo affair, in THAT case the question presented was whether a person in a PVS ought to be maintained in such a condition indefinitely with no hope of recovery. Now, undoubtedly there were many involved in THAT controversy who had no agenda other than using Mrs. Schiavo for thir own personal gain politically. But give them this, they were consistent in their belief that one should not go to the courts seeking to withdraw treatment when there are other available alternatives (Mrs. Schiavo’s parents/siblings, as I recall, were willing to undertake the care if Terri’s husband would not).

    It is the repellent nature of the prospect that due to economic concerns a life may end, and that’s it’s all pounds and pence/dollars and cents in the ultimate, which allowed a mountebank like Sarah Palin to gain traction with her pronouncement on “death panels” (in her defence, she has a Down’s son and DOES have “skin in the game”)

  • STV

    Let’s face it. If Charlie was an African with HIV just off the plane they’d be falling over themselves to offer millions of pounds worth of treatment.
    The decision of the NHS to try and block the parents from seeking help elsewhere is callous and nonsensical. I can’t shake the notion that this is about them protecting their empire and killing for convenience more than it is about the Gards and their child.

  • STV

    What this comes down to is that there are people in the NHS, Parliament, the Judiciary and, unfortunately, in the media and the public who don’t seem to believe that there is a line at which the government’s jurisdiction ends.

    If I was in the situation this couple are in I would be doing much the same. The Bien Pensant may find the American pro-lifers distasteful but the Gards need every voice they can get in their corner because what they are up against is nothing short of tyrannical and, personally, I am sickened by the fact that this case rests on an argument over the potential outcome of an experimental treatment and not the much simple question of who should have the power to decide for a child?

    The NHS has no business telling two loving, caring parents that they cannot try to save the life of their child, particularly where they are determined to do so independently. Parental rights should not be overridden by a public sector service in any case but child abuse.

    The fact is the NHS, in it’s guise as the nations Golden calf, gets away with murder (sometimes literally) in this country, criticising them is seen as some kind of irredeemable sin but they are not omniscient and they should not be omnipotent, the King case proves that. The fact is that too often Doctors bury their mistakes. I hope Charlie isn’t one of them.

  • Muttley

    Whether you agree with the parents or doctors in this case, it is clear that this desperate couple have been treated appallingly. Once again the medical professionals have allowed communications with the family to break down completely. Lessons should surely have been learned (as they never are!) from the case of Ashya King, whose parents felt their only option was to flee Britain for the specialist treatment they wanted for their son, hotly (and cruelly) pursued by a European arrest warrant. The charge, presumably, was wanting the best for their kid. (Updates say Ashya is well and attending school).

    Death is an everyday thing in a hospital environment, but from the parents’ point of view the life of their child is paramount and they naturally want to be sure they have exhausted all possibilities. To put it crudely, once he is dead, he is dead, and to be dragged to court to hear a medic tell everyone he is better off so is intolerable when they have the money and the will for one last attempt.

  • George Scoresby

    Absolutely no acknowledgement by the author of this drivel of the bureaucratic reasons the NHS might want to stop the parents seeking an alternative. But, by all means, blame it on some American anti-abortionists, if you must.

  • Carl Williams

    “Those of us who are pro-life and British do not want a war over this subject. We want to calmly attempt to assist parents in making abortion the last resort that rarely happens.”

    I’m British and pro-life. Speak for yourself, not me, thank you very much.

  • StopIslamofascism

    “Everyone can speak on this except people i don’t agree with” is not really much of an argument, Andre. Letting one justice decide a child’s fate is equally obnoxious. NHS Trusts very much have an interest in saving money nonetheless If cost was no object then equally we could say, why not keep him alive while alternatives are sought?

  • Mill House

    When it comes to the “psychological health of the patient” I would be very surprised if a man could get a hair transplant on the NHS – and so he shouldn’t – but the traumatic affect on him of losing his barnet could be just as great as that perceived for someone who wanted to change sex.

    Neither treatment warrants NHS funding.

  • The Banana

    Quite possibly, which pretty much is the epitome of ‘callous bureaucracy’.

    Hence why the Vogons are based on the British government. 😉

  • Pat

    Good question. When national health insurance was set up these questions didn’t arise and hence weren’t discussed.
    The usual justification for the treatments you mention is the psychological health of the patient. I guess that holds water sometimes.
    BTW we are supposed to have national health insurance, which does not preclude private funding of medicine for those who can raise the money. The authorities seem to have taken it upon themselves to prevent anyone from topping up the insurance claim, so either you give up the benefits of the insurance you have been forced to pay for or you are limited to whatever they are prepared to pay for.

  • Mill House

    I believe that GOSH, the NHS and the courts are afraid that if the child was taken to the USA and made some great improvement they would be left with an awful lot of egg on their faces. The parents should be allowed to make this decision with money raised from private sources.

  • Mill House

    I agree with everything you say. The only thing I would confront you on is your issue 1. Is it right (I don’t think it is) that public money should be spent on sex change operations (gender re-assignment I think the snowflakes call it) ? No, it most definitely is not. NHS money should be spent on healthcare not cosmetics. If it can be spent on that sort of thing I see nothing wrong with it being spent on Charlie Gard.

  • AngularMerkilled

    This whole sh!tpost is insulting and misleading.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    …The question is whether the treatment will work, there would be no point in putting this child through the pain of travel if it was clear the trip would be a waste of time….

    When did it become the courts job to tell people how to spend their money?

    This child is very ill, and likely to die. The courts have ruled that the NHS have made a correct medical decision to provide no more treatment – which is a decision they are entitled to make. But the parents now want to continue with an experimental treatment privately in another country and fund this themselves. By what right do the courts forbid this?

    As far as I can see the parents are the legal guardians – NOT the court. Unless the parents are declared incompetent, they, surely, have the right to decide what treatment should be offered, and how much they should support this child in his fight for life, including how much discomfort he should experience. Which law are the courts claiming gives them the right to supersede the parents in this regard?

  • Pat

    Your headline is insulting and misleading. If you think that the fate of a one year old is anything to do with abortion, then you think infanticide is just another word for the same thing, which poses the interesting question of how old a person has to be before his/her killing is regarded as murder. And yes I am fully aware that many regard the killing of the unborn as fine and dandy, but I think a little respect is due to those who differ.
    Also nobody is accusing anybody of wanting the child dead, far less actively pursuing it.
    There are two issues here
    1 Is it right that everyone be compelled to contribute to the cost of this child’s treatment? On this I agree with the authorities, given the expense and the chance of success it appears that public money would be better spent elsewhere.
    2 have the authorities the right to prevent private individuals from spending their own money on the child’s treatment, or otherwise interfering. To which my answer is absolutely no. The Government owns neither the child nor the donor’s money.
    It’s like an insurance company that not only refuses to pay out on a claim, but also prevents anyone else from attempting a repair- the first may be reasonable, the second is not.

  • The Banana

    Ridiculous. The NHS might be socialised but as you point out yourself they’ve raised the money to have it done privately in the US.

    This is, ultimately, down to the freedom of the parents to seek treatment paid for with their own money. The idea that a court will abduct their child to le thim die, for their own good, is absolutely ludicrous and a stain on a supposedly free country.

    I’m reminded of the proton therapy that forced some parents in the UK to abduct their own child from a hospital (As a hospital is not a prison I’m not sure how that’s even possible but never mind), have a manhunt called on them, a European arrest warrant, the whole shebang. For what? The really sickening thing is that the child got better.

  • Martin Adamson

    The question of who the Gard parents choose to ask for help is their business alone, and none of ours. The reason they are asking for help from the US Pro LIfe lobby is probably that US Pro Life are the only people in the world who will stick by them to the end, now that the Catholic Church and the British intellectual & political classes have shown that they dare not confront the leftist bureaucratic oligarchy who are determined to do all they can to stop Charly getting treatment. If you cannot understand how outrageous to common decency and historically unprecedented it is that some jumped-up bureaucrat has taken it upon themselves to forbid the parents seeking whichever religious consolation they choose in their hour of affliction, then you cannot expect your pretentions to moral certainty to convince anyone but yourself.

  • blingmun

    Don’t forget that being pro-life simply means not murdering unborn babies. If you think that position is “crazy” perhaps you should examine your own sanity.

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