Fight for Char­lie’s Law goes to West­min­ster

Daily Mail - - News - By Sam Green­hill Chief Re­porter

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.’

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