Since April, Chris Gard and Connie Yates have been fighting for their little boy, Charlie's, chance to receive experimental treatment in America. However, the hospital where he is being treated refuses to allow them to take him elsewhere for treatment. They took their fight all the way to the highest court in the EU, but they were refused. Now, the hospital has the legal right to turn off Charlie's ventilator whenever they see fit, and they even refused to let the parents take their son home to die. However, in the last few days, two major figures—the Pope and President Trump—spoke out in support of Charlie Gard and his parents. Will their statements and attention they draw be enough to sway the hospital?
On Friday, the Pope sent a tweet, which seemed to clarify an earlier statement by the Pontifical Academy for Life. The Pontifical Academy for Life’s statement—while arguing for the defense of life at all stages—seemed to be sympathetic to the court’s decision, writing that “aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family” must be avoided.
Pope Francis tweet took a different stand. He wrote, “To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.
On Sunday, July 2nd, Pope Francis released a statement—reaffirming the parents right to guide their child’s care—and clarifying the Vatican’s position.
“The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the story of Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” said the Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, reports the Catholic News Agency. “He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”
On Monday morning, President Trump came down on the same side of the debate as the Pope, tweeting, "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so."
Not only have these two world leaders offered their support for Charlie Gard, but his supporters are also protesting outside of Buckingham Palace. The Washington Post shared a video of the protest. The people gathered outside the Parliament are chanting, “If he’s still fighting, then we’re still fighting. Save Charlie Gard. Release Charlie Gard.”
Later on Monday, the Vatican-owned hospital Babino Gesù Hospital in Rome released a statement saying they are reaching out to Great Ormond's Street Hospital to ask for Charlie to be transferred to their hospital. The president of the hospital, Mariella Enoc, said, "We are close to the parents in prayer and, if this is their desire, willing to take their child, for the time he has left to live."
You have to wonder if the Great Ormond’s Street Hospital will continue to keep Charlie Gard in their custody in the face of all of this criticism. The general outrage all over the world—including from their own people, from the leader of the world’s biggest church, and from the president of one of the leading world powers—highlights the pitfalls of socialized medicine. If the hospital knows what is good for them, they will respect parental rights and allow the little boy to have his chance to live.