There's a hopeful sign in the case of Charlie Gard, the British infant whose parents were told by government health officials and a European court that he would be taken off of life support to die, even though they had raised money to take him to America for experimental treatment. The hospital originally said the treatment would do nothing but prolong the child’s pain, but they’ve now asked the court to re-hear the case. They claim to have been told more about the treatment and say they need the court to untie their hands if they are to reverse their decision.
I have a feeling this welcome reversal has less to do with any sudden new medical knowledge (you’d think they would have asked about the treatment before refusing it, since I believe they are doctors, after all) than with the wave of worldwide outrage over their trampling of the parents’ rights and their cold consignment of an innocent baby to death. Charlie’s mom credits the intervention of the Pope and President Trump with helping turn the tide. Let’s hope and pray that the hospital and court do the right thing and let the parents seek the last-ditch treatment for their baby. Maybe it is futile, but it’s their call. Doctors can advise parents on whether to seek such treatments, but it is not their place to make the final decision. And it’s certainly not the place of judges and government health bureaucrats.
At a time when many Americans are pushing the US to adopt British-style national health care, this should be taken as a chilling warning of what happens when the state takes over medical decisions and budget constraints start impacting whether patients live or die. Proponents of that system scoffed at Sarah Palin’s term (“death panels”), but what’s the difference between that and the widespread policy in Europe that older and seriously ill patients have a “duty to die” to keep from burdening the system with the costs of keeping them alive? The attitude that decisions about our health reside with the state instead of with patients or parents is what seriously needs to die.
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