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!