Courts – not Trump – must have final say in Charlie Gard case
our children have. Unable to breathe, see or swallow for himself, it is quite possible he may never utter a single word.
His doctors have argued nothing can be done while his distressed parents, Chris and Connie, are desperate to take their son to the US for experimental treatment.
There is sympathy to be had for both sides in a case that would test the wisdom of Solomon.
The courts, not only in the UK but in Europe too, have ruled Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity, siding with the doctors who believe the untested US treatment would only add to his pain.
Last Friday, after European Court of Human Rights judges ruled the he shouldn’t go to the States, his life support machine was due to be switched off. Out of compassion, hospital officials delayed the move to allow Charlie’s parents to say their goodbyes.
But as they spent what was to be their final days with him, Donald Trump intervened, throwing the already agonising case into further turmoil.
In 140 Twitter characters, not only did he give a glimmer of hope to Charlie’s parents, but also sparked a diplomatic disagreement that unsettled Downing Street and beyond.
After previously attacking his predecessor Barack Obama for involving himself in the UK over Brexit, Trump threw himself into the debate over Charlie, ignoring the courts of our land.
He tweeted: “If we can help little Charlie Gard, as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”
The White House then chimed in saying: “The President is just trying to be helpful if at all possible”.
But far from helping, Trump’s involvement has compounded an already distressing time for Charlie’s parents.
Although his actions were clearly well-intentioned, his bravado shows he believes he is more important than the UK and European courts, which both deferred to the hospital’s decision.
The boldness, some may argue ignorance, of his move, comes as Trump’s reforms on America’s own healthcare are in complete disarray.
They include axing life-saving healthcare for millions of US citizens as well as an order that allows states to withhold funding to Planned Parenthood groups.
The unhinged President while sitting at his New Jersey golf club on Monday, surfing the internet for subjects to Tweet about, is clearly clueless as to the medical issues and detailed arguments in a heartbreaking case. Parents understand why Charlie’s parents are desperate to try anything to prolong their child’s life but parents also grasp why Great Ormond Street Hospital’s doctors fear an untested treatment would add to the child’s pain and believe he should be allowed to die with dignity.
We must never forget that caught in this clash over the rights of parents and doctors representing the public good is a desperately sick baby.
But the US has the worst infant mortality rate of any wealthy industrialised nation. Trump should start saving American babies instead of condemning more of his own to die.
The case of Charlie Gard is heartrending but we – and Trump – must trust the courts made the right choice.
Trump intervened – throwing the agonising case into further turmoil