It now seems abundantly and shockingly clear: Great Britain’s kangaroo High Court and the country’s National Health Service system of socialist medicine are trying to kill baby Charlie Gard.
These two entities – the National Health Service, or NHS, backed up by the legal authority of the British courts – hold total power over innocent little Charlie. His life and death are in their hands. But are they ethically and judiciously employing that power?
Under a system of government-controlled, socialized medicine, the state does have the authority to determine the life and death of every individual who resides within the country’s borders. The Charlie Gard case is the perfect illustration of that power and how it can be wickedly wielded. We’ve heard the term Death Panels, and here they are for all to see.
Let’s look at the record. Charlie was born healthy on August 4, 2016. Last September, when he was two months old, Charlie was diagnosed with a serious and extremely rare neurological condition. The British doctors who work for the government claimed from the outset that his condition was terminal and not treatable. Medical experts from outside of the U.K., in particular in Italy and the United States, vigorously disagreed. After his diagnosis, Charlie was hospitalized and since then he has received only palliative care and essential life support on a ventilator to help him breathe – just enough medical intervention to sustain his life. Since January 2017, Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, who lost legal custody of their child to the state, have been trying to get permission to take Charlie to New York for a promising experimental therapy at Columbia University Medical Center in New York under the direction of world-renowned neurological specialist Michio Hirano, MD.
Dr. Hirano has testified under oath in the U.K. that his experimental therapy, which has received support from the U.S. government, has between an 11 and 56% chance of extending Charlie’s life and significantly improving his quality of life. The family of a child with a condition similar to Charlie’s who was treated by Dr. Hirano has come forward and claimed that – five years later now – their child continues to survive and improve, although he has still not been restored to total health. (Keep in mind scientific genius Stephen Hawking here. What if the plug had been pulled on him because of his disabilities?)
Thanks to contributions from over 83,000 people, over £1.3 million has been raised to fund Charlie’s medical evacuation to New York and to cover other expenses.
For months now, since early last spring, courts in the U.K. have been hearing the case of Charlie Gard. The courts became involved at the behest of the hospital which sought legal authority to end life support for Charlie. The latest judicial proceeding took place in London’s High Court on Friday, July 21. But instead of it being the last in a four-month long series of hearings in front of a judge who was supposed to issue a ruling, as had been previously indicated, it is now said that yet another “trial” will commence on Monday, July 24 and sometime after that the judge will issue his order – life or death for Charlie.
Baby Charlie is a prisoner of his hospital in the U.K.
In the British court hearings that began earlier this year, and ever since then, the NHS doctors and the government have said that Charlie should be disconnected from life support so that he can die – and that his parents have no right to take him to New York or anywhere else for treatment. In fact, the British courts ruled that Charlie’s parents could not even take Charlie home so he could die there, once the court had ordered his death. Starting on April 11, a number of dates set by the court for Charlie’s death (technically for him to be disconnected from life support) have come and gone – the result of new appeals that have been filed, increasing media attention, tweets of support from the Pope and President Donald Trump, and growing public interest in the story and support for the family. This seemingly endless loop of court proceedings and repeated postponements of the end of life support for Charlie brings to mind a series of bizarre, repeated stays of execution for a convicted murderer on death row. Under those circumstances, however, anti-death penalty advocates would no doubt be quick to charge the state with cruel and unusual punishment.
On April 15, Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, said the judge’s decision to allow the hospital to kill Charlie means her parental rights have been “stripped away by strangers.” She told the Daily Mail:
This isn’t about us being selfish, keeping him alive because we can’t bear to let him go. It is because if we did not fight for this chance, we will have to live with the “what if” for ever.
We are his parents who have spent over 3,000 hours with Charlie and we know him better than anyone.
If we thought there was absolutely no hope we would not have fought for this.
But if there is even the slimmest chance of a treatment working, and the doctor in the U.S. told us he believes there is, what loving parent would not take that chance?
When I think about willingly turning off Charlie’s life support, with him dying in our arms, I cry uncontrollably. It’s so hard because he is so stable – he is growing before our eyes. Only this week I had to order more Babygros in bigger sizes as he is thriving. Every day he looks more and more like Chris. He has chubby squeezable little legs, his hair needs to be combed more. . . Letting Charlie go is something we would have faced up to, would have prepared for and accepted, if we felt we’d exhausted all chances of treatment.
In July, after the United States House of Representatives voted to grant Charlie and his parents visas and permanent resident status in the U.S. so they could if necessary escape the U.K. and travel to New York for medical treatment, the British court reaffirmed that the family would still need a court order to be allowed to leave the London hospital. And no such order looks like it will be forthcoming.
At the court hearing on Friday, July 21, the attorney who represents the hospital suddenly presented as evidence a recent brain scan of Charlie and described it as “sad.” At that point, according to numerous news accounts, Charlie’s parents, who had not been granted the courtesy of seeing the report or having it reviewed by their own medical experts, broke down – his mother in tears and his father shouting “Evil,” and “I’m not f****** listening to this biased shit anymore” – at which point the parents stormed out of the court. It wasn’t the first time that their frustration boiled over.
The ongoing Charlie Gard case has attracted worldwide media interest. Photos of Charlie’s mother and father arriving at the court on Friday July 21 speak volumes. They reveal, in the exhausted but determined faces of Chris and Connie, the obvious and totally unnecessary added stress and trauma that the two parents have been subjected to for months on end. It would be stressful enough for a young couple to learn that their child is seriously ill. Adding the weight of the entire medical and government establishments, that are conspiring against them and the survival of their child, and the situation quickly becomes unbearable.
I have followed this case closely since it began to emerge as an international story last April. I have studied the British National Health Service single-payer socialist medical system for almost three decades. I have also reported on cases in the United States in which sick children have been snatched from their parents – “medically kidnapped” in common parlance – because the parents disagreed with the doctors’ treatments and wanted to try something else.
Regarding one of the medical kidnapping cases in the U.S. in 1979, attorney William Ginsburg told me, “It’s proper for courts to determine if parents are competent. It is not proper for the courts to make medical decisions.” That judicial philosophy has not been in effect in the U.K. since the advent of socialized medicine in 1948. When the court in London returns to hearing evidence on the Charlie Gard case on Monday, July 24, the judge will be making a medical decision as he reviews the transcripts of Dr. Hirano’s consultations with Charlie’s medical doctors in London last week and uses them as the basis for his order. Noted British attorney and journalist Joshua Rozenberg QC confirmed that this would be the procedure in a tweet from the court last Friday.
In addition to what the Charlie Gard case says about a patient’s rights in the U.K., it also sheds light on how a socialist medical system discourages medical innovation. In effect, a panel of group thinking government hack doctors in London is preventing a patient from traveling to a country where a legitimate and promising experimental therapy is available. Dr. Hirano and his colleagues at Columbia University Medical Center are eager to enroll baby Charlie in their experimental treatment protocol. This is how science and medicine are supposed to work to advance and achieve new levels of knowledge and more effective therapies. But not in the UK.
So, what exactly is going on here?
The only conclusion that I can come to in this instance is that British authorities – having backed themselves into a corner – are now simply dragging out the case of Charlie Gard as part of an insidious strategy to absolve themselves from having to make an unpopular life and death decision. Moreover, they don’t want to upset the seven decade-long party line control grid which holds that the state has the final say over everyone’s life and death with no exceptions. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on Charlie’s life and the longer he goes without treatment for his condition – and he is receiving none in hospital in London – the sooner he will die. Or the sooner he will become so impaired in his untreated medical state that no therapy, no matter how promising, will be able to help him.
It is not difficult to imagine the physicians, the hospital, the bureaucrats, the politicians, and the lawyers in the U.K. all thinking that the best case for their interests would be for Charlie to simply die ASAP, at which point media interest will largely go away, public attention will dissipate, and the pressure will be off. Such an outcome would bring the additional benefit of confirming the socialist doctors’ evaluation that Charlie Gard’s case was indeed hopeless and terminal – and the judge would be freed up from having to make a decision.
It’s sick – but that is the nature of single-payer, socialized medicine, which has its roots in Soviet medicine. “Control the people.” That’s what socialized medicine is all about. When the chips are down, it has little or nothing to do with helping, treating, or curing. Instead, under a single-payer system any citizen is vulnerable to the kind of “treatment” that has been visited on Charlie Gard. Old, young, premature, infirm, critically ill, unborn, past the age of “productivity” (that is, no longer able to generate taxable income) – it doesn’t matter – the patient’s case is evaluated in terms of non-medical criteria, especially the cost-effectiveness of prolonging the patient’s life within the limited total budget that the government has set aside for the nation’s medical care. In the absence of free market competition and the ability to control costs, that global budget is never enough. In this context, absent any meaningful ethical or religious grounding in Western society anymore, there is no room for the treatment of people as individuals and for anything resembling freedom of choice.
Medicine in England vs. the United States
And why should we in the United States care about all of this? Because single-payer socialized medicine, like the corrupt and “evil” (to quote Chris Gard) National Health Service, is coming here. It’s been on the drawing boards for years. Now, it’s ready to roll. The current and escalating rhetoric of most leading Democrat Party politicians is that we need single-payer socialized medicine – and if the Democrats manage to grab power again, we will get single-payer socialized medicine, whether we want it or not. Just like with Obamacare. In 2009, it was passed into law – rammed down our throats – by a corrupt Congress even though a majority of Americans opposed it.
Obamacare, or socialized medicine “light,” represented a significant step on the road to full-blown socialist single-payer. The propaganda that has accompanied and propped up the crumbing Obamacare experiment has apparently convinced a majority of Americans to feel that “health care is a right” that needs to be provided by the government in the form of single-payer. No longer will health care be a citizen’s personal responsibility nor will the people of America have any choice in the matter. And along with the unimaginable degree of government largesse that will result from central control of one-sixth of the entire economy will come the inevitable, irreversible, and complete control of the population.
As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, in a dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. U.S., 277 US 438, 479 (1927), wrote:
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficient….The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
Look out, America. When single-payer socialized medicine arrives on our shores, it will be the last nail in the coffin of our precious individual liberty and freedom – and many of us will, like Charlie Gard, find ourselves helplessly waiting for the end of life to come, at the dirty hands and the arrogant say-so of some bureaucrats or a judge, long before it should.
Update (Monday July 24, 2017 5:30 AM EDT). The High Court in London that is deciding Charlie Gard’s fate is scheduled to reconvene later today, Monday July 24, at 2 PM London time – 9 AM U.S. EDT to hear more evidence in the case. The judge may render a decision as soon as Tuesday July 25 on whether or not Charlie will have his life support cut off or be allowed to be taken to New York by his parents for treatment there.
Update (Monday July 24, 2017 10:25 AM EDT). The High Court proceeding in the Charlie Gard case got underway shortly after 2 PM London time. I was monitoring live Twitter feeds from inside the court by Joshua Rozenberg, an attorney and journalist whose Twitter account describes him as “Britain’s best-known commentator on the law.” Within minutes of the hearing getting underway, Grant Armstrong, the attorney representing Charlie Gard’s parents, who were in the courtroom, announced to the surprise and shock of everyone present that they were withdrawing their appeal of the court’s earlier orders that Charlie’s life support should end. They were also ending their effort to take Charlie to the United States for treatment.
According to the AP, Armstrong “says delays in treating Charlie mean his condition is now so poor that treatment will not help. He says tests [conducted last week] show that the baby has irreversible muscular damage.”
Charlie’s parents will now meet in private with his doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital to decide how long they will have to say goodbye to their son, who would have turned one year old on August 4, before his life support is turned off.
Attorney Armstrong said the devastated parents now “wish to spend the maximum amount of time they have left with Charlie.” He added that Chris Gard and Connie Yates “wish to treasure their remaining time with Charlie, however short that may be.”
Peter Chowka is a veteran journalist who writes about national politics, media, popular culture, and health care. His new Web site is AltMedNews.net. Peter’s July 13, 2017 one-hour interview on The Hagmann Report can be viewed here.