Judge Rules Against London Hospital--In Favor of Charlie Gard's Parents

By Michael W. Chapman | July 10, 2017 | 2:12pm EDT
Chris Gard and Connie Yates and their son, Charlie Gard. 

(CNSNews.com) -- A judge at London's High Court ruled against the hospital and in favor of the parents of baby Charlie Gard--who is suffering from a rare genetic disorder--that they may present new scientific evidence concerning their son's treatment, which will be reviewed this Thursday and could possibly lead to Charlie receiving treatment in the United States. But the outcome is still uncertain and Charlie's fate is precarious.

Charlie Gard is 10 months old. He lives on life support in the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. His genetic disorder is destructive to muscles and organs, and most people who have the problem die in infancy. The baby's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, want their son to undergo an experimental treatment, which has been helpful in some cases. An online campaign has raised more than $1.5 million for the baby's treament.

Under the health care laws in Britain, however, the parents are not allowed to pursue this option. The hospital contends Charlie is brain-damaged and beyond medical hope, and the hospital wants to shut off his life support. This denial of the parent's desire to seek treatment for their son elsewhere led to several court rulings -- in favor of the hospital. On Monday, July 10, the judge who previously ruled against the Gards agreed to review whatever new evience they can present to him for a reevaluation.

(Photo: BBC) 

“The Great Ormond Street Hospital requested Mr. Justice Francis to reaffirm his prior ruling," Americans United for Life President Catherine Glenn Foster told CNSNews.com from London. "So they argued for him to say that, indeed, there is no new evidence and that they were free to remove Charlie’s [life] support."

"He refused to do that today," said Foster.  "He found in favor of the family, and announced that there would be a hearing, a full-day hearing on this matter on Thursday, continuing into Friday as needed. And Charlie’s parents and their barristers will get a chance to present the new medical evidence in court.”

Last Thursday, several researchers, clinicians, and a U.S. doctor sent a letter to the Great Ormond Street Hospital explaining that there is evidence that an experimental "deoxynucleoside therapy" could potentially help Charlie Gard. 

As reported by the BBC, "Signatories to the new letter include a neurologist and a research fellow from Rome Children's Hospital, a scientist from Cambridge University's Mitochondrial Biology Unit and two researchers from Vall d'Hebron Institut de Recerca in Barcelona."

The AUL's Catherine Glenn Foster was asked by Charlie's mother, Connie Yates, to come to London and advocate for her family. The AUL is the legal arm of the pro-life movement, and fights "for legal protection of life from conception to natural death," states the group's website

Foster told CNSNews.com that Charlie Gard's parents prefer that their son go to the United States for treatment. "We’re talking about world-class hospitals, first in the field, and that is what they prefer," she said.  "And they’re asking that Charlie be treated in the way that they think is best but also in the way that many doctors and hospitals [think] is best.”

If there is a ruling in favor of the parents, baby Charlie could be treated at several different facilities in the United Sattes, including New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Columbia University Medical Center. The hospital at the Vatican has also offered to take Charlie in for treatment. The procedure is fairly simple as the medicine is put into milk and the baby drinks it. 

AUL President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster. (AUL) 

Concerning the comments by Pope Francis and President Donald Trump in favor of Charlie Gard getting the treatment his parents want for him, Foster said it "was very effective" in raising awareness about the case and in bringing about the new hearing.

"In terms of the public, it brought awareness," said Foster. "I think that was in part why so many doctors and hospitals began to step forward and say, in fact, this is something we are aware of and there are other [medical] options. Before the public hue and cry over this, the doctors and hospitals might not have heard of this case. So it was very effective in that and in getting this second hearing."

Americans United for Life reports that, in addition to the Pope and President Trump, at least 37 members of the European Parliament, some members of the British Parliament, some members of Congress, and some celebrities, including Cher and Lindsay Lohan, have spoken out in favor of Charlie Gard or offered to help the family. 

“This is so promising," said Foster.  "We are truly grateful to the High Court for its ruling [today]. We expect that the hearing on Thursday will result in further evidence being presented that will allow Charlie to be transferred to the United States for this groundbreaking treatment.” 

On its website, the AUL states, "I am Charlie. We all are Charlie. He could be my child, or your child, or any one of us, as we age or get sick or injured. The life and death struggle facing Charlie’s parents is more common than you think, which is why we are fighting for the parents’ right to determine their own son’s welfare, to give Charlie a chance at life."

In a joint statement issued with the Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, March for Life, and Students for Life of America, the AUL said, “The idea that a government may override and block parents’ decisions about the care for a child is horrifying. In past situations of similar circumstances, the patient or their family has always had the option of finding alternative care and that’s exactly what Charlie’s parents have done. This is their child and they want to use money they have raised from private donors around the world to provide him access to a treatment option that has had some success with a related condition.

"It is chilling that the UK court is allowing the London hospital to deny the family this option, or even the option to bring Charlie to spend his last hours at home. Our two nations have a proud and enduring history of protecting individual rights and respecting home and family. We strongly support the offer of our government to assist Charlie and his parents in this exercise of their natural rights.”

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