The European Court of Human Rights sentences a little British boy to death

By Jonathon Van Maren

For those of you unfamiliar with the details of an awful story unfolding in Great Britain, little Charlie Gard is a ten-month baby who suffers from a rare genetic condition. In spite of the fact that he also has brain damage, Charlie is extraordinarily fortunate to have something else, as well—loving parents who refused to give up on him, and instead fundraised nearly 1.4 million British pounds so they could take him to the United States to undergo a therapy trial.

But that was before Charlie was sentenced to death by British doctors—and that sentence was upheld by the courts, culminating in the final rejection of the final desperate appeal of Chris Gard and Connie Yates by the European Court of Human Rights.

And why, might you ask, would a human rights court of all places refuse to allow a loving mother and father do everything in their power to save the life of their little son? Simple. It’s because doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, where Charlie was being cared for, announced that they had decided to turn his life support machine off. When presented with the fact that Charlie’s parents had raised the equivalent of millions of dollars to try and save him, the doctors remained unmoved. It was time, they insisted, to let little Charlie “die with dignity.”

As I’ve written before, “death with dignity” is an insidious slogan that is being used to cull and kill those society has decided are done living, or no longer have lives worth living in the first place. Death with dignity, in the minds of these medical professionals, means those they have decided are no longer worth fighting for must die faster. There is an ugly ideology underlying the slogan—the not-so-subtle insinuation here is the if Charlie is kept on life support long enough to go to America and undergo therapy trial and passed away there, that this somehow wouldn’t be dying with dignity. For Charlie to die with dignity, these doctors said, he must die now.

I cannot imagine how Chris Gard and Connie are feeling right now, after being informed by the European Court of Human Rights that the decision is final, and there is no place left for them to plead for the right to fight for their little son’s life. I cannot imagine how betrayed they feel by the doctors who decided that their prognosis meant that Charlie wasn’t worth the attempts of his parents to see if anything could yet be done for him, even if it was a long shot. I hope that they can at least spend a little bit more time with the little boy they love so much before the end, and hope God will comfort them in their grief. Their society has betrayed them all.


For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.

50 thoughts on “The European Court of Human Rights sentences a little British boy to death

  1. Beth says:

    This is absolutely wrong! If these people choose to take their child to the U.S. for treatment, and Great Britain no longer has to provide care for this child, who the HELL are they to tell these parents no. This child belongs to the parents, not the government. Disgusting and unacceptable!!

    • Shabana Khan says:

      I agree. Our flipping world has gone mad. Every child deserves the tight of life.. come.on this si ridiculous
      Those parents have a right to their choices
      Whoever thinks this is mercy is a heartless little low life. Who are we to decide what’s mercy and what’s not. We’re not in these parents position.

    • Jules says:

      I have now read the article quoted above and declare it utter drivel. Lazy self aggrandising rubbish. This is tantamount to fake news as it doesn’t make any effort to follow the facts or the thread of the process that Charlie’s parents have been through. Having a child under the care of GOSH has been a privilege. I have also witnessed parents lose their children in Great Ormond Street and believe that God has a special place for all kids that die in innocence. Fight for their lives, cut the suffering and let them be. If only christians really were like Jesus perhaps the power of God would actually be seen to work in them. Then maybe miracles might happen among us again.

      • Emily says:

        Jules, why should being at GOSH be a priviledge?! Yes, kids die, lives end but most cases there has not been any other option. If these parents have a treatment they want to try and they have the money for it – is it not their right as parents to fight for their son.

        Just because GOSH does not have the treatment does not mean that we dont look elsewhere for our loved ones!

  2. Nicole Powell says:

    I can’t imagine what the parents are going through or how much pain this must cause them. On the other hand, I can’t help wondering what kind of trauma this little boy was experiencing either, especially as it’s not reported on. Human rights are made for EVERY human being, not just parents, so that in situations where a child is suffering unnecessarily so that others don’t feel so much gruef, they can step in.
    I’m CERTAINLY not making any judgements, I’d just like to hilight the fact that we don’t have all of the facts here, and probably never will, as this is a private matter for the family. I am only commenting to explain why those human rights exist.
    My most sincere thoughts and world wide hugs to the family involved, as I said, I can never imagine how you’re feeling.

  3. Robert-Eliezer Bartolome-Cadangan says:

    And the EU were so hypocritical on how much they speak about other nations so as they call Human Rights Violation. So ironic!

      • Josh says:

        Pretty sure the possibility of recovery and a full life lived far outways what you or the doctors think is “mercy.” Not only is this a 10-month old child who is unable to make such a decision for itself, it’s also a human… not a bunny rabbit with a broken neck. Unless your the type of leftist who would equate the life of that bunny to this infant human, then you might consider murder a “mercy killing.”

        • Karen says:

          There is no possibility of recovery. The little boy has a terminal disorder and extensive brain damage. The treatment in the US has not been tried (or even developed for) neurological issues but for muscular issues. The doctor offering the treatment said that it might work, in theory, on the brain, but would not reverse the brain damage and was unlikely to make much difference due to the difficulty of such treatment crossing the blood/brain barrier. The treatment team and outside doctors weighed in on this case and determined it would be a senseless burden on the baby’s already poor health to send him across the ocean for treatment that admittedly will not change the baby’s status or fix the damage already done. He suffers from frequent seizures and the trip would be physically demanding. I feel horrible for the parents and I am quite sure I would, as they have, hold on to any hope I could find. I don’t k know that I agree with sitting of life support, but sometimes letting go is the merciful thing to do. Many prayers for this poor baby and his family. 🙁 Articles like these don’t give the whole story.

      • Tammie says:

        Mercy mandated by the courts…… Hmmmm. Sounds to me like the worst excuse of government interference to ever exist. It is NOT up to the government to decide who is worthy of life. Especially if there may be an answer in another country. This in fact is mandated murder. Government playing god.

      • Deborah Bagley- Bridges says:

        Troy, the courts and medical personnel are not the ones to decide; that they have the audacity to say if a 10 month old, or a 22 week premie born child (like the Canadian Pediatrician Association did, re. triplets), or underinsured parents (whatever pople go through), or people they feel are too old to contribute to society, be refused complete medical care, is murder!!! How dare we let people show medical malpractice, and turn our heads! I know they’ve been through alot, already, but a civil suit oughtta shut these senseless doctors down!!

      • Redeemed52 says:

        When someone decides you must die because your life is not worth living, that’s not mercy, it’s murder.

  4. Philip says:

    How about we stop the panic posting and hand wringing indignation and focus first on what is good for the child. All respect to the parents for trying to save his life but the treatment they are looking to go get done in the States is 1.Experimental 2. Has not shown any success. The journey over would cause indescribable pain for this poor child and as much as we sometimes want to preserve life, sometimes it isn’t possible. This isn’t the court being monsters but rather making a very tough decision for what’s best for the child.

    • Chris says:

      This may have been a very tough decision but it is not a decision for courts’ to make, it is the responsibility of the parents. To stop “panic posting and hand wringing indignation and focus first on what is good for the child” is not our place either. The parents have the primary responsibility to decide whats best for their children and the “hand wringing” is probably not strong enough of a reaction to the courts’ overstepping its bounds. Another issue with this ruling is the underlying principle of “equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity”. Since this child will not (in the courts’ opinion) be able to have an equal outcome in life, the child is better off dead.

      • scragsma says:

        Well stated, Chris. Being experimental and having no previous sign of success is no reason to conclude that a treatment won’t work. If that were a valid thought process, no new treatment would ever be attempted more than once or twice, and there are thousands of successful treatments now that we wouldn’t have. If the parents want to try it, and have raised the money themselves to do so, no physician or court has the right to prevent them. This is an absolute disgrace.

        • Vina says:

          I totally agree here. We don’t know these parents, I think this is very selfless they definitely love their child and want to save him but also want to help any future children with this problem. Even if this child died after the treatment…hopefully the doctors here will learn something from it. After all it is science. Many of us are guinnes pigs and don’t even know it.

    • Milton says:

      The court has no right to decide what is best for the child over his parent’s wishes and ability to fund an attempt to save his life. The state arrogating this power to itself is far too much like the saying in Germany in the 1930s that some (and we know whose) lives were “lebens unwertete leben”.

    • lkb says:

      @Philip: I see your point but what about the parents’ wishes that Charlie be allowed to die at home? What about the doctors’ and hospital’s apparent promise to not rush Charlie’s end but now not even allowing the family the weekend so that friends and family can say their goodbyes? If this was your child…???

    • Lewis Lorenz says:

      “The journey over would cause indescribable pain for this poor child…” You do not know that. And. it is not for a government to decide when parents are to give up hope for their child or to take their child from them. This is the death panel we get with socialized medicine

      • JAMZ says:

        Government has no place in these decisions. Only a parent can make this decision. Put yourself in their shoes, see if you would like the government coming in and making life and death decisions concerning even your PETS! if you don’t have children and cannot feel what these parents are feeling how about the government telling you that they have decided to kill your pet!. You people would go wild over that! But it’s ok to kill babies in abortions, and have the government decide to kill your baby! Something wrong with that thinking!

      • Robin says:

        So true! And what is this ruling saying? Fighting for life isn’t justifiable? Do we then also promote suicide? These parents could give up, but they love their baby enough to want to give him every chance at life. Isn’t that how we should view the value of life?

        • Shabana Khan says:

          Well said Robin
          we are in a way showing the path that giving up is a good easy lazy option. As a nation Britain isn’t going down ad fighters. It isn’t good at any perspective

      • Billie says:

        I totally agree with you Lewis. Who wouldn’t do everything in their power to save their baby. And it’s clearly another decision of government overstepping their bounds. They don’t have the right to let this child die. No right at all to determine who lives or dies.

    • Sandy says:

      Philip, where did you read that the journey would cause indescribable pain for this poor child? I’ve read all I can find on his condition and cannot find a reference to back that up.

  5. Hayley says:

    Am devastated watched this since the beginning I don’t no all the facts but we could have at least tried America for him you jus never And now we won’t. Am so sad for the family my thoughts are with all of them

  6. Pam S. says:

    It is totally disgusting to me what this world is turning into. I thought we were civilized a long time ago.Obviously , we are returning to old days when there was no regard for life . It’s unbelievable that this little boy is being killed without every possible treatment being exausted.God be with him and his family. The people who are responsible, their day of reckoning with come!

  7. J b says:

    What kind of crazy non sense is going on in the world now. 10 months old really, after being able to raise those kind of funds one would think if not able to help this child in the end , surely it could assist research further . If anything give the parents peace of mind knowing they did all that could be done and by the will of really smart people help many lives later on. My two cents.

  8. Martyn Bates says:

    The EU Court of Human Rights is not the culprite here, it is really the UK National Health System. Once the UK NHS has condemned someone to death it is almost impossible to overturn that decision in the UK courts.
    Chris & Connie Gard have fought hard for months through the NHS appeals procedure, then the UK courts, and at each stage the UK doctors have been adamant that the American treatment would not help Charlie. If just one well respected UK doctor had been willing to commend the American treatment there may well have been a different outcome. No such person could be found and so at every stage the NHS medics condemned the American treatment.
    Thanks to the UK’s soon to be terminated membership of the EU, Chris and Connie had one final recourse: the EU Court of Human Rights. However many months have now passed and a treatment which might have given Charlie some quality of life had it been started months earlier can now give Charlie little more than a life in care.
    The problem lies not with the courts but with the British medical system where the NHS still considers itself the arbiter of the UK health and will fight tooth and nail against anyone who has the temerity to challenge its medical judgement.
    When the NHS is dealing with things it knows, it works well despite being starved of funding by the UK government. However it needs to be more open to allowing patients and their families to move treatment out of the NHS. A simple but fast way to transfer a patient out of the UK NHS system to a medical facility in another country, and I think that it has to be in another country outside the UK, is all that is required.
    Such a procedure could have helped the Gard family, and many other families who have been caught in the same trap.

  9. Marie says:

    I would like to start my own death panel there. I guess you know who would be the first to go, and after they were gone, there would be no more death panel. So sorry for the parents. I pray that this doesn’t happen.

  10. Duane says:

    I smell a rat. I’m thinking they thought it would be embarrassing if another country was able to give a chance at life (or quality of life) for the child. They think it would be a black mark against their system. The courts made it a political game. Now the shame comes.

  11. Heather says:

    . Read up a little more on this child and on all of the symptoms that is and has been his life since he was two months old. Not a decision for the courts to make? How is it not? I have absolutely no doubt that the two parents are absolutely amazing and obviously show complete dedication to their child. However, there is a reason why doctors and nurses aren’t suppose to be part of the professional primary healthcare team that is taking care of one of their loved ones. I hear everyone empathizing with the parents ( as I myself do ). Unfortunately none of us can empathize with the child, because nobody really knows exactly how his life is to him. Dying with dignity is just what it implies. It’s not a term coined by psychotic physicians or judges so they can kill innocent children. I mean seriously? People really believe that? I have been a nurse for 16 years and have spent a great deal of time and energy giving people the absolute best last days of their lives as modern medicine allows me. It’s about making the dying process as comfortable and bearable as possible for an individuals condition. The doctors and the nurses have obviously come to the conclusion that the child’s life is so diminished in quality and obviously with his condition is in immediate jeopardy of it continuing to severely decline. Just the infections that will inevitably come would make anyone of us miserable and those will be the least of his problems. Traveling wears on even the most healthy of individuals. For a child in his condition it could very well be a death sentence anyway. In the end we don’t really know. However just because he is a small child we can’t ignore the quality of life he may or may not have or the pain he may or may not be in or the fear and/or anxiety he may or may not have. I’m not even saying that I’m on the hospitals side and agree with them. I have no idea. The information is too limited and I do not see and observe him daily. However, I think it is so wrong that everybody is demonizing these people who have clearly done everything they could to try to help him. He wouldn’t even be alive now if it wasn’t for them. I can say with some confidence that it would have probably been a lot easier for the hospital staff to let the parents use all the money they raised to secure appropriate transportation to the U.S. and and just hand him over. And they didn’t try their damndest to help the poor guy and save his life to just suddenly become evil psychopaths bent on killing him. Nobody would stand around and watch a mother or father torture their children. You stand up and do something about it. I’m in no way saying the parents are or would intentional do anything to harm their child. Sometimes overwhelming emotions cloud our judgement. Often times when tradegy strikes, these emotions cause people to see hope for their loved ones in places that there is none. Unfortunately it is the patient that suffers most, their bodies being forced to attempt to fight the fight that they didn’t choose to fight. These situations are gut wrenching and life altering. There is no easy answer. None of those doctors want to kill a baby. None of the judges want to kill a baby. None of them want to have to go and be in court fighting with his parents, who obviously love him very much , just so they can kill the child. There is a reason that they made that decision. They are doing what they think is right. HIPPA laws will prevent them from telling the public why they are fighting for him though, so we will not hear their side.

  12. Gwendolyn. Richards says:

    So do the doctors now carry the title God on their badge or their prescription pads ? This is so wrong. One of the comments was it is not murder it is Mercy. Mercy for whom? Surely not for the parents who is fighting so hard to keep their child alive. And not for the child who came to know his mother while in her womb for the nine months. This is cruel heartless and inhumane.. May God pour out his strength on these parents and may God forgive those who took an oath to save lives at any cost. .

  13. Phyllis says:

    This article is awful. It gives no details of what is wrong with the little boy and what has been done to try and help him? It is so stupid because the article starts off saying it is going to give you details and only ends up telling about how the hospital wants to pull the plug.

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