London hospital, NY Times consistent to the end: the wishes of Charlie’s parents must be overridden

By Dave Andrusko

“GetReligion” is an extremely helpful source that describes itself as “a national and global journalism site focusing on how the mainstream press covers religion news in politics, entertainment, business and sports.” It does many, many things well, including spotting glaring oversights and omissions.

Typically, the posts at getreligion.org address a religious dimension of a story that the religiously tin-eared media misses or is wholly oblivious to. But a post today–“The New York Times runs two Charlie Gard editorial, one in the news pages”–has an interesting twist.

Terry Mattingly shows how a Times editorial masking as a news story brings in the religious dimension–the Pope–where it really didn’t belong and misses altogether a secular question (if you please) which is at the heart of the debate over little Charlie Gard’s fate.

Mattingly points to Times’ columnist Ross Douthat whose op-ed began with this:

In the case of Charlie Gard, the dying British infant whose parents are being denied the right to attempt a long-shot treatment despite having a willing doctor and the money to pay for it, there is a hard question and an easy one.

The hard question is when medical interventions become too extreme and pointless, when illness and death should be allowed to take their course. The easy question, whose answer makes the case a moral travesty, is who should decide the hard question: doctors and judges, or Charlie’s mother and father.

Much of the confusion around the case reflects a mistaken leap between the two questions. Because the first one is so difficult, some people intuitively assume, the second one must be complicated too.

Mattingly’s shrewd insight is that the latest New York Times news story on the case altogether misses the case that Charlie’s parents–Connie Yates and Chris Gard–have been saying from the beginning: what might be called their informed parental authority to make the decision to transport Charlie to the United States where Dr. Michio Hirano would attempt to help Charlie with his nucleoside therapy.

The statement from the parents that Mattingly quotes is very helpful because it begins with Connie and Chris acknowledging that parents in general, themselves in particular are not infallible and that their request to move their son was not made in a vacuum.

Their argument is there are two world renowned hospitals involved here. And

All we wanted to do was take Charlie from one world renowned hospital to another world renowned hospital in the attempt to save his life and to be treated by the world leader in mitochondrial disease. We feel that we should have been trusted as parents to do so.

(Underlining is mine.)

The Times news story–which, to repeat, was actually an editorial–frames it as exclusively a battle of the experts (with a passing reference to Pope Francis’ support for the family) as if the parents are ignorant bystanders with no interest in and no knowledge about what is best for their son.

As we posted this morning, the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London couldn’t be gracious even in handling Chris’s and Connie’s altogether reasonable request to be allowed to bring Charlie home to die. GOSH came up with ridiculous, patently absurd objections to keep Charlie at the hospital and not at home with his parents.

Whatever else we might say, GOSH is consistent to the end. It knows what is in Charlie’s “best interests,” not Connie and Chris, and they will decide where Charlie dies, not his parents.

And they will ride that horse to the very end–in the process keeping captive a little boy who ought to be home in his parents’ loving arms when he dies.