Fight for Charlie’s Law goes to Westminster
A NEW law in memory of tragic baby Charlie Gard was laid before Parliament last night in a bid to spare other families courtroom clashes with doctors.
When Charlie died last year, his mother Connie Yates and father Chris Gard vowed their little boy would make a difference to the world. They have won the backing of prominent doctors and peers to change the law to give parents more rights over what happens to sick children.
They want parents to be allowed to move their children to a different, reputable hospital if they disagree with doctors. Last night Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who was lord chancellor under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, started the parliamentary process to usher in Charlie’s Law.
He tabled an amendment to the Mental Capacity Bill, which is being debated in the Lords. It could become law later this year unless ministers block it.
Charlie was born healthy in August 2016 but at two months he became ill with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.
When Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London said there was no hope, his parents wanted to take him to America for treatment. The hospital opposed this move and, following lengthy court battles, Charlie died on July 28 last year after being taken off life support.
Charlie’s Law would compel hospitals to offer mediation with parents to resolve disputes before resorting to courts.
It would also force the Government to provide access to clinical ethics committees to advise doctors and parents on life and death decisions. And most crucially it would empower parents to seek treatment elsewhere. Lord Mackay’s amendment deals with the first two ideas, initially for adults only, and it is intended to add the third idea and extend all of it to children later.
The peer said: ‘Everyone agrees we need a solution to prolonged and distressing legal conflicts over medical treatment.
‘I am happy to have laid this amendment which seeks to prevent cases reaching court unnecessarily. This is a proportionate and long-overdue measure which I hope will be the first small step toward realising Charlie’s Law.’