I believe we have all heard the ongoing saga of little Charlie Gard; the baby boy born with a life threatening genetic defect, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have waged a legal battle with the British National Health Service in the court system in the United Kingdom
Little Charlie’s parents wanted to take him to the United States where he could receive experimental, but potentially lifesaving treatment for this birth defect that is typically fatal. The courts in England ruled his parents would not be allowed saying they must remain in Britain so he could “die with dignity.”
This court ruling is disturbing on so many levels. Probably the most egregious is this ruling permits the NHS to usurp the right of those who are closest to little Charlie and most concerned for his wellbeing, his parents, to make the most fundamental decisions of life and death for their son.
Critics have been quick to point out that this is one of the dangers of nationalized healthcare; a bureaucracy ultimately makes the most basic health decisions regarding patients and not the patients’ families.
Continuing to consult with doctors about little Charlie’s condition, his parents have decided to discontinue their legal options. Charlie’s health has continued to decline over the course of the lengthy court battle to the point that any treatment now would be too little too late. His parents agreed to let Charlie be taken to hospice.
But the thing I find most disconcerting is the court’s asinine reasoning for denying Charlie’s parents the opportunity to possible save their son; Charlie should be allowed to “die with dignity.” There is no dignity in death.
One might surrender his life for a noble cause, or heroically sacrifice his life to save another, but death itself does not possess an inherent dignity. Solomon said it this way, “surely a live dog is better than a dead lion,” Ecclesiastes 9:4. The lion, fiercely majestic in life, but now dead, is no better or more dignified than a live dog, servile in comparison.
Death is a reminder of our sinful condition and plight. None of us will get out of this life alive. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned,” Romans 5:12.
It is beyond the court’s power to invest death with dignity through its ruling when it denies little Charlie of his life. The court’s feeble attempt to ennoble Charlie’s death is voided by robbing him of his future. I cannot imagine anyone who has gazed even briefly into the eyes of one dead and saw dignity staring back at him.
If the British courts want to kill a baby boy they need to find a better excuse.
Postscript: Since this article was written Charlie Gard has died.