Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old infant on life support due to complications from a mitochondrial disease, is at the center of an international controversy.
Charlie cannot breathe or move on his own, and his parents either want to take to him to the US to seek experimental treatment, or bring him home to die in peace. But Great Ormond Street Hospital won’t let the parents move the child, as they believe there is no cure and moving him would only cause harm. After the British Supreme Court sided with the medical officials, a debate on the government’s ability to mandate “death with dignity” ensued.
President Trump tweeted Monday that little Charlie is welcome in America to seek a cure.
If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2017
At the center of the debate is the opinion of the Vatican, as Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia wrote, “we must do what advances the health of the patient, but we must also accept the limits of medicine” in order to “avoid aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family.”
He cautioned against the side effects of government interference in medical relationships.
“If the relationship between doctor and patient (or parents as in Charlie’s case) is interfered with, everything becomes more difficult and legal action becomes a last resort, with the accompanying risk of ideological or political manipulation, which is always to be avoided, or of media sensationalism, which can be sadly superficial.”
White House director of media affairs Helen Ferre cited legal concerns when she said US doctors hadn’t engaged in conversations with Gard’s parents. “The president is just trying to be helpful if at all possible,” Ferre said, adding that Trump had not spoken directly with the family and does not want to pressure them in any way.
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