By Kathy Ostrowski Policy & Research Director, Kansans for Life
Thanks to what has been termed an “extraordinary” measure by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, Charlie Gard will not be immediately removed from his ventilator.
The 11th hour intervention puts on hold until at least next week a decision by three members of the UK Supreme Court. Earlier this week those justices ordered that Charlie would remain on the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) ventilator only until today, Friday, as his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, asked the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.
The Mirror reported that in an emergency hearing at the High Court, seven judges took up the plea Charlie’s parents filed for–“an urgent interim measure to save Charlie’s life under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.”
No decision has been made whether this High Court will take the case for review. A statement from the court said:
“Today, the European Court of Human Rights decided to indicate to the United Kingdom Government that, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, they should provide Charlie Gard with such treatment and nursing care as may be appropriate to ensure that he suffers the least distress and retains the greatest dignity consistent, insofar as possible, with maintaining life until midnight on Tuesday 13 June 2017.”
After Thursday’s UK Supreme Court decision, hospital doctors were ordered to maintain an additional 24 hours of ventilator life-support. “A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights would be binding on the UK Government, rather than Great Ormond Street Hospital,” the Mirror reported.
As NRL News Today readers are aware, 10-month-old Charlie’s medical condition is grave. He suffers from a rare, genetically-caused disease, so rare there are only sixteen known cases in the world. Charlie’s parents sought to remove him from the hospital to try “nucleoside bypass” oral therapy in the U.S. But the hospital wouldn’t let Charlie leave, and the courts ruled against Connie Yates and Chris Gard, Charlie’s parents.
Thousands around the world have been riveted to the drama of this young couple devoted to their ailing son. More than 83,000 have pledged funding for that trip in the amount of $1.5 million.
PARENTAL RIGHTS ON TRIAL
An article yesterday in The Guardian by Owen Bowcott noted that the UK Supreme Court panel of Lady Brenda Hale, Lord Brian Kerr, and Lord Nicholas Wilson concluded, “Established human rights law dictates that the rights of a child should take precedence over the rights of their parent.”
The panel apparently were persuaded by GOSH lead attorney, Katie Gollop, who argued:
“The [alternative therapy in America] would take time and over the weeks and months Charlie would be forced to remain in his [precarious] condition: he can’t see, can’t hear, can’t cry, can’t swallow. He has a mechanism that causes his lungs to go up and down. We don’t know whether he suffers pain … the argument being advanced on behalf of Charlie’s parents was that the child should have no voice and it was entirely for the parents to decide. [That’s] dangerous and it’s power without end.”
As many have pointed out, including lawyers for the parents, by adopting GOSH’s claims, the UK Supreme Court is usurping parental rights– claiming that it (with the hospital) is the “voice” for Charlie with the authority to determine his “best interests.”
The public believes that it is actually this erosion of parental authority which is both dangerous and without any end in sight.
As Bowcott reports, attorney Richard Gordon, representing Connie & Chris, had told the UK Supreme Court:
“These are model parents trying to do all they possibly can for the benefit of their child. Their view on what is best for Charlie differs from the court… We say there’s a boundary beyond which the state cannot simply go without the strongest justification.”
Charlie’s parents already have the natural authority to make informed decisions to further his life. Six months ago, they wanted to take him overseas to receive oral medication that seems to be successful for treating the mitochondrial depletion syndrome Charlie suffers from. Yet the hospital has restrained Charlie from getting that treatment while he continued to deteriorate—and now they insist he must die!
The question before the European Court of Human Rights over the weekend is whether the government has overreached in making themselves the ultimate arbiter of Charlie’s “best interests.”
Attorney Gordon phrased it this way:
“The issue is whether the state has the power to intrude on decisions the parents have made in order to mandate that child’s death before it might come to an end.”
Keep praying for Charlie and his long-suffering parents.