Christians should be praying for little Charlie Gard and his parents. This is a tough situation and a very sad case. Ethicist’s will talk about the Charlie Gard case for a long time. Have supporters of the baby’s release to the United States, or somewhere, slipped over the line where everything that can be done must be done even if the situation is impossible to cure and there is pain and suffering? Are the parents correct that the child is not suffering and that certain treatments may help achieve a certain quality of life? There is a point where life itself becomes an idol, and if the natural end of that life is near further treatment may indeed be a burden.
I was involved early on the bio-ethics discussions and my first conference was in San Francisco hosted by the University of California Berkeley. It was well attended and participants came from all around the world. They were social workers and doctors, hospital administrators, philosophers and a small group of clergy. There were psychologists and psychiatrists. The discussions were about end of life decisions, abortion and euthanasia and the beginnings of a long conversation on the human genome project which at that time was getting underway. Scenarios like Charlie Gard’s were discussed and a variety of opinions of course were expressed. What are the best interests of the patient and who decides? At the time most would agree that the parents have right to choose what happened to the child. At some point in the conference a women from McGill University made a fascinating statement – “these conferences and useful, necessary, educational, thoughtful and fun. Enjoy them while you can because soon the lawyers will figure this out and everything will change”. She was prophetic. Conferences that I attended after that always had a strong group of lawyers that did change the give and take and they added a certain painful quality to discussions.
In the baby Charlie case a European Court decided the child should be taken off of support and that he couldn’t even go home to die. Recently the Brexit vote was a referendum and an overarching statism that even told folks in Britain what size and shape their cucumbers could be. At that early conference there were warnings that once end of life decisions are taken away from family and their doctors things will get touchy very quickly. When a Government decides it wants to pay for health care they will also want to decide how much of it you get and when it stops.