Judges will treat parents’ application to move son to the US for experimental therapy “with the utmost urgency”
By Kathy Ostrowski, Policy & Research Director, Kansans for Life
It was a bittersweet first Father’ Day for Charlie Gard’s dad, Chris, and his partner Connie Yates. Yesterday they did not know whether their son’s respirator would be shut off Monday night.
But it won’t be shut off for at least three weeks, under rulings from both the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the UK Supreme Court. The latter has ordered life-support continue until July 10.
At stake is whether the UK parents will be able to take their 10 month old son to the U.S. for experimental therapy for his rare and debilitating mitochondrial depletion disease. Currently, London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has insisted they have deduced Charlie’s “best interests” to be staying on the premises, removing his respirator and being allowed to “die with dignity.”
Today ECHR judges in Strasbourg, France, ordered that Charlie’s life “must be maintained until such time as the Court makes its decision.” This extends their June 13 ruling which had ordered Charlie’s life-sustaining care be kept going at GOSH only until at least midnight tonight.
Now that attorneys for Charlie’s parents have submitted the required “substantive application” (beyond last week’s emergency interim intervention), the ECHR will review and rule on the matter.
Furthermore, the Court’s press release states that “in light of the exceptional circumstances of the case, the Court has already accorded it priority and will treat the application with the utmost urgency.” No expected date for a ruling was given other than it will be on “an expedited timetable.”
With that in mind–and with GOSH legally challenging the authority of the European Court–a three member panel of the UK Supreme Court that had sided with GOSH just last month, has now ordered life-support to continue so that ECHR may rule.
Connie and Chris have lost two rounds of court rulings and then the UK Supreme Court before appealing to the ECHR, whose direct jurisdiction is the UK government, not the hospital. Charlie’s parents have fought to give their son a chance at an oral-medication treatment regimen in the United States that supposedly has helped at least 18 similarly situated patients.
However Charlie’s parents cannot yet breathe easy as this morning’s Supreme Court hearing shows how hostile the hospital is toward letting Charlie live. Chris and Connie have characterized the hospital’s conduct as “inhuman” and maintain a 24/7 presence.
The public continues its outpouring of support for parental decision-making regarding healthcare for their children. The GoFundMe pledges to pay for the overseas trip for Charlie have continued steadily and now more than $1.78 million is pledged.
As the court battles continue over whether UK hospitals may sentence a child to death, Charlie remains alive. Yesterday, a touching Facebook photo of him with his passport open was posted by his parents.
But, the sad question remains whether Charlie will ever get to the United States for therapy.