The tragic case of eight-month-old Charlie Gard must touch the heart of anyone with an ounce of compassion in their body, after a judge ruled that doctors could stop life support treatment for the gravely ill baby against the wishes of his parents.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates want to take their son to a hospital in the United States for a treatment trial, and their plight prompted 80,000 donors to raise the £1.2 million cost required.
Their solicitor says that they cannot understand why a High Court judge had not “at least given Charlie the chance of treatment”. The parents will not be alone in their confusion, because although the medical evidence of continued suffering will have been convincing in court, if there is one last possibility of treatment, and the means of paying for it is in place, then the parents are being denied the opportunity to do all that is left to give their son a chance of life. In such circumstances, how many among us would accept the medical verdict without question?
In his judgment, Mr Justice Francis said that his ruling was in “Charlie’s best interests” and that he hoped, in time, the parents would come to realise it was the correct decision. It is more likely that they will carry a grievance throughout the rest of their lives that the decision was taken out of their hands, against their will, when one last option was open to them.
If trial treatment in the US is available, and its level of effectiveness can be monitored against continued suffering, then Charlie Gard’s parents deserve a second hearing if they want to take yesterday’s ruling to the Court of Appeal.