UK court sets new hearing for terminally ill baby
LONDON — A British court on Monday gave the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard a chance to present fresh evidence that their terminally ill son should receive experimental treatment.
The decision came after an emotionally charged hearing in the wrenching case, during which Gard’s mother wept in frustration and his father yelled at a lawyer.
Judge Nicholas Francis gave the couple until Wednesday afternoon to present the evidence and set a new hearing for Thursday in a case that has drawn international attention.
Charlie suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him brain damaged and unable to breathe unaided. His parents want to bring him abroad for experimental therapy, which they say offers their son a chance of improvement.
But British and European courts have sided with the hospi- tal’s decision that the 11-monthold’s life support should end, saying therapy would not help and would cause more suffering.
The reopening of the case at London’s High Court may allow Charlie to receive the experimental treatment at his current hospital or abroad.
The application came after both Pope Francis and President Donald Trump fueled international attention to the case, with hospitals in Rome and the United States offering to provide Charlie the experimental therapy.
The case pits the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children against the authorities with responsibility for ensuring that people who can’t speak for themselves receive the most appropriate care.
Under British law, it is normal for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child such as cases where a parent’s religious beliefs prohibit blood transfusions. The rights of the child take primacy, rather than the rights of parents to make the call.
Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have received wide public support, while right-to-life groups have intervened in their cause. Americans United for Life chief executive Catherine Glenn Foster was in London on Monday to support the couple.
A petition supporting Charlie’s right to treatment has garnered around 350,000 signatures and more than $1.7 million have been raised online for his case.
The parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, pose with a petition outside a hospital in London on Sunday.