“A truth our society must not lose sight of and that is the sanctity of every human life and the dignity of every individual.” Frank Peretti
What would you do to save the life of your child? How far would you go? If you learned that your child had a deadly disease, is there anything…any price too high to save the life of your precious child? What if your child only had a 10% chance of surviving? Of living just a little longer?
One of the rallying cries of those in the Pro-abortion movement is that a woman should have the “right to choose” what happens to her own body? Since the criteria is choice – shouldn’t parents have the right to choose to save the life of their child? Since the child can’t advocate for himself, shouldn’t parents have the right to advocate for him?
What if someone, even a governmental authority took the control of a child from his parents? What if that governmental authority prevented the parents from using an experimental medical procedure that might save their child’s life, or at least extend their child’s life? If it wasn’t a government sanctioned authority, it would be criminal, and it’s still immoral.
All of this unfolds in the horrifying case of Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old British infant who, a month after he was born, was diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS), a genetic disease so rare it’s believed to have been diagnosed in only 16 children in the world. It causes brain damage with a progressive weakening of the muscles. In addition, Charlie was deaf with severe epilepsy, severe progressive muscle weakness and couldn’t move his arms or legs or even breathe unaided.
There are many ethical issues in this case, far too many to consider in the space that we have. One issue is paramount, the British government and the hospital have violated the rights of the parents by taking control of the life of Charlie. The courts stole the rights of his parents and gave them to the doctors and the hospital.
Tragically, this is not an isolated incident in the “brave new world” of government controlled healthcare. There is horrible case after horrible case of situations like Charlie Gard’s where a tyrannical government has violated the God-given rights of parents. Sometimes the justification for not making Herculean efforts to save a life is financial. A procedure is deemed too costly, but that wasn’t the case with Charlie. Money was not an issue. His parents raised $1.5 million from sympathetic donors, so it would have cost the government nothing to have acceded to their wishes.
So why wouldn’t they set Charlie free? The answer is tragic. Government controlled medicine isn’t about healthcare, it’s about power. It’s about control. Government bureaucrats see resourceful individualism represented by Charlie’s parents as an existential threat.
The doctors involved believed Charlie’s condition was irreversible and the current treatments (e.g., ventilation, suction) were capable of causing him pain. His parents agreed that if their son’s brain function couldn’t be improved, he shouldn’t be subjected to further life-sustaining treatment. But they disputed that he had irreversible brain damage. The main issue is the scope of parental rights and who should be allowed to decide what is in the “best interests” of the child in regard to additional treatment.
“The time has come for your baby to die,” a doctor told the grieving parents of a catastrophically ill baby. No, this wasn’t Charlie Gard. That blunt declaration was uttered in 1994 in Spokane, by a doctor to the parents of Ryan Nguyen, who—born at just 23 weeks gestation—was on kidney dialysis and struggling for his life. Like Charlie Gard, doctors declared that further life-sustaining treatment of the child was “futile” and only prolong his suffering. Like Charlie Gard, desperate parents sought court relief against their son being pushed into the grave sooner rather than later. But unlike Charlie Gard, it was the U.S.A. A court in Ryan’s case temporarily blocked the removal of treatment, pending trial. In Ryan’s case the court never decided who had the ultimate say, parents or medical professionals. His treatment was transferred to a different doctor who didn’t view his case as futile. Ryan was soon weaned off dialysis and survived for more than four years, a time in which he was a generally happy, if sickly, child who liked to give “high fives.” If the government or his original doctors had had the power to impose their worldview on their patient and his parents, Ryan would have died before he’d truly had a chance to live.
Charlie Gard’s case breaks new and frightening authoritarian ground. Not only did the court force Charlie off life-support; they also declared that their ethics rule over his life, even if the parents find and fund alternative care. As far as I know, this is unprecedented in futile-care controversies.
The bottom line is that a judge told coherent parents they must let their child die. Charlie didn’t just die of a rare disease, he died at the hands of a nefarious political agenda. When individual rights are sacrificed on the altar of bureaucracy, government abuses the very ones they are to protect.
Do you want to know how barbaric government controlled medicine can be? Charlie died in a London hospice, where he was transferred after the British High Court ruled against his parents’ wishes and would not even allow him to die at home.
Frank Peretti was right: “There is a vital lesson to be learned here, a truth our society must not lose sight of, and that is the sanctity of every human life and the dignity of every individual. Increasingly, in a world that seeks to establish its own knowledge and values without God, we find our concept of humanity falling through the cracks. If, as our children are so often taught, we are nothing but a cosmic accident that arose for no reason out of primordial slime, and that the stronger among us are necessarily the better among us, then where does love fit in, or kindness to those in need, or simply going out of our way to lend a hand to a fellow human being?”
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