The huge moral complexity of the legal argument between the sick baby’s parents and the courts is being ruthlessly exploited by pro-lifers
Great Ormond Street hospital, among the most famous children’s hospitals in the world, goes back to the high court on Monday for a further ruling on the agonising case of Charlie Gard, the 11-month-old baby with an extremely rare neurodegenerative disorder which has left him with terrible brain damage, unable to move, and suffering from severe epilepsy. The baby’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, who presented a petition today appealing for the hospital to allow him to travel to the US for treatment for which they have crowdfunded the money, are understandably desperate to try anything that might give him some quality of life. GOSH believes there is no treatment available that has any chance of success. It is because hospital and parents disagree about what is in Charlie’s best interests that the courts have got involved.
The story has become a global sensation, and a focus for a particularly virulent campaign by right-to-life campaigners. The evangelical right, particularly in the US, have been flooding social media to denounce Europe in general and European doctors in particular for their moral decay. To convey the absurd disproportion of what cannot reasonably be described as debate, search online for #charliegard. There are tweets describing the NHS as “a Nazi institution”; others compare it with Auschwitz. Public buildings lit up in blue in Charlie’s support are contrasted with images of parliament lit up in rainbow colours to celebrate Pride. President Trump seeks to align himself with the pope in concern for Charlie and his parents, a bizarre move even for Mr Trump when he is determined to removed the right of millions of American babies to healthcare.