Action Alert!

The state-imposed death of Charlie Gard: not just a tragedy but an injustice

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 30, 2017

Charlie Gard is going to die. His death will be a tragedy, like the death of any young child. He and his parents deserve our prayerful sympathy.

But there’s more to this story, and it’s doubly tragic that neither the bishops’ conference of England and Wales nor the Pontifical Academy for Life noticed. Charlie Gard will die at the hands of the state.

The injustice here is not that Charlie will be (maybe already has been) taken off his life-support system. The decision to turn off a ventilator is always painful, but sometimes justified.

The injustice is that Charlie will die when the hospital administration wants, and where the hospital administration wants. His parents have been deprived of their right to supervise his case. They could not take him to the US for experimental treatment. They could not take him home, to die in peace. As one of our readers observed, Charlie was essentially kidnapped, so that the authorities would be sure that he died on schedule.

Two tepid statements, from the local bishops’ conference and from the Vatican, might have been appropriate if the discussion had centered on the decision to turn off the ventilator. But they missed the essential point of the controversy entirely. The state—the hospital, the courts—had seized the power to preside over a child’s death, regardless of the parents’ wishes. Sadly, the Catholic hierarchy did not protest.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: fwhermann3492 - Jun. 30, 2017 2:56 PM ET USA

    I grieve not only for the child and his parents but for my beloved church and its many sheep who wander aimlessly through barren pastures without a shepherd to guide them. To say that Paglia's statement was tepid is to put things euphemistically. It was downright cowardly.

  • Posted by: shrink - Jun. 30, 2017 2:11 PM ET USA

    Desperate times require desperate measures. The state must seize control. Parents must give way… indeed, parents are at the center of the problem. Papal advisor Schellnhuber has proven that the world is over populated by 5 billion souls, and other important persons observe that people continue to breed like rabbits. As all socialists know, government coercion can save scarce medical resources while decreasing the surplus population. Phil, please don't be a "denier" or your turn will come.