Court hearing to decide fate of baby Charlie Gard

Charlie Gard

Charlie Gard

WASHINGTON – Today’s court hearing in the United Kingdom will decide the fate of Charlie Gard.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates, 11-month-old Charlie’s parents, have been working non-stop since Monday to prepare arguments they hope will convince a judge to allow them to transport Charlie to a hospital outside of the U.K. for treatment.

The child suffers from a rare genetic mutation of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. The infant has brain damage, is blind and deaf, and needs a ventilator to breathe.

Britain’s High Court has ruled that Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, should take him off life support and let him die.

The parents have raised more than $1.8 million to bring Charlie either to the U.S. or to Rome for treatment, but the British government has denied them permission even to take Charlie out of the country using their own money.

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But that could soon change. Justice Francis, the British judge overseeing Charlie’s case, will consider new evidence later today presented by Charlie’s parents and by hospitals in the U.S. and Italy that have volunteered to help.

A decision is not expected Thursday, according to the Washington Times, but it’s the last scheduled day of hearings.

“If he’s still fighting, then we’re still fighting,” Gard and Yates have said.

Numerous pro-life activists have spoken out on Charlie’s behalf, including March for Life president Jeanne Mancini and Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler.

Recently, Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said “the medical evidence is consistently clear that Charlie deserves a chance at life.”

“There is much misinformation about Charlie’s condition, but he shows no signs of being in pain and experts say that alternative treatment has a chance of improving Charlie’s quality of life,” Foster said. “It is unacceptable that Charlie’s parents are being asked to prove that their son’s life is still worth fighting for when it is their right as parents to pursue what they consider best for Charlie.”

The judge who earlier said it would be better for Charlie to die said he would change his mind if there is evidence of a chance for him to live, according to the Guardian newspaper of London.

Foster is currently in Britain to assist Charlie’s parents. She believes that the medical evidence in Charlie’s favor is overwhelming.

“We have letters and invitations from doctors and specialists from around the world and medical evidence that shows that Charlie could greatly benefit from this ground-breaking treatment. Charlie’s parents have been seeking this treatment since November – it is now July – time is of the essence,” she said.

She pointed out the judge and the court are being asked only to “give Charlie this chance.”

Created Equal, a pro-life organization based in Columbus, Ohio, is holding a vigil for Charlie outside the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., today.

Their goal is “to pray for Charlie, encourage his parents in their heroic struggle, and call for action by British officials,” according to an email.

A petition is circulating concerning Charlie’s condition, with just under 500,000 signatures, at

Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schindler Schiavo, told WND this week Charlie’s case is not being handled correctly. He’s president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.

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Schiavo died in 2005 after a court ordered removal of her feeding tube and water at the request of her husband. Since then, Schindler has devoted himself to defending medically vulnerable people.

“Because of the nature of their fight, and the day to day uncertainty whether their child will live or die, [Charlie’s case is] reminiscent of my family’s fight to save my sister, Terri,” Schindler told WND.

Schindler believes Charlie’s struggle is vitally important in the larger struggle of parental rights against encroaching government influence in end-of-life decisions.

“I think it’s obvious to any normal observer of the news surrounding Charlie that this is a simple case of fit and competent parents being denied the right to care for their son, and an aggressive medical and legal system intent on imposing its will rather than empowering the weak and vulnerable – in this case, Charlie and his parents,” he said.

“Once these types of decisions are enshrined into its precedent – the notion, as we are seeing in Charlie’s case, that parents are not fit to determine how best to care for their son – people realize that the same thing could happen to them, and that it has literally been stated that it’s in Charlie’s best interest to die.”

Schindler sees a disturbing rise in cases like Charlie’s, which he attributes to cost-cutting initiatives.

“We currently live in a health-care system that is hyper-focused on controlling costs in terms of providing treatment,” he said. “The problem, it seems to me, is that decisions are now made on the premise that instead of providing long-term ‘costly’ care, it is much cheaper to deny care, especially if the hospital decides that the treatment is not going to have much success.

“Sadly, since we established the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network after Terri died, we are seeing an increase in situations like Charlie’s, which are often described as medical futility-denial of care cases,” Schindler continued. “Undoubtedly, with rising concerns in the costs, and bioethicists and ethics committees making quality of life judgments, persons need to understand the potential risks they may face and the real possibilities of being denied wanted, needed and helpful treatment.”

Schindler warns that people should learn more about their own medical rights, in case a situation like Charlie’s or Terri’s should ever happen to them.

“It is especially important today to know your rights as a patient,” he said. “Not only if you are admitted to the hospital, but whomever you appoint as your health-care surrogate that they know your rights, in the case you don’t have the capacities to make medical decisions yourself. It could be the difference whether you receive the care you need.”

Get David Kupelian’s culture-war blockbusters: “The Marketing of Evil,” “How Evil Works” and his latest, “The Snapping of the American Mind” – signed and personalized – at the WND Superstore.

WND reported earlier this year on the 12th anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo. The media and her husband, Michael Schiavo, asserted Terri was in a “persistent vegetative state,” but her parents and brother, Bobby Schindler, insisted otherwise, claiming she was able to swallow, laugh and express love for her family.

In 1990, Terri, at age 26, collapsed in her St. Petersburg, Florida, home for a reason that still hasn’t been explained and was taken to a hospital by first responders who feared she was dead. She was comatose for a time, then started responding and was moved to a care center. Her family members say she was getting better before her court-ordered starvation.

WND has been reporting on the Terri Schiavo story since 2002. Read WND’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of her life-and-death fight, including more than 150 original stories and columns.

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