An 11-month-old British infant is making international headlines as his parents battle the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London over treatment for a rare genetic condition.
The infant, Charlie Gard, suffers from a mitochondrial disease called MDDS. He cannot breathe without a life support machine, is deaf, has epilepsy, has brain damage, and damage to his heart, liver, and kidneys, according to the hospital. His doctors recommend not prolonging his life because it is impossible to tell if he is in pain. The Guardian reports that the high court, appeal court and the European court of human rights side with the hospital.
But Gard’s parents want to try an experimental drug treatment called nucleoside therapy on their son, instead of terminating his life. An American doctor offered the treatment, and other experts agree that there is new evidence that the experimental therapy could help the baby.
Pope Francis and Donald Trump have both weighed in on the Charlie Gard case, supporting Gard’s parents and urging doctors to pursue treatment options instead of pulling the plug.
Most Christians will take the pro-life viewpoint to save Charlie’s life at all costs. After all, his parents say that he is responsive, enjoys being tickled, and likes watching videos with his parents. Though his doctors say that there would be “no benefit” to prolonging his life, Charlie’s parents disagree.
Michael Brown writes for The Stream that it is important to wake up and notice what a termination decision would mean for Charlie.
“... there’s an aspect to the Charlie Gard case that is getting far too little attention,” Brown says. “It is unnerving, it is disturbing, and it must be addressed, since it is part of a larger attitude that is incredibly dangerous.
“In short, it is the attitude that some humans do not have the right to live because others deem their existence too difficult or painful or burdensome or pointless. And since they are considered unworthy or unproductive or unnecessary, the best thing we can do is terminate them.”
This kind of thinking is dangerous. It devalues life that was purposefully placed here on earth.
Brown asks, “Who else might fall into that category? Other handicapped children? The elderly with severe dementia? The mentally ill? What other ‘conditions of existence’ should be terminated as well?”
These are questions that Christians need to be thoughtful of in a changing culture.
Brown writes, “The moment we take the life of someone whose existence we deem unworthy or unproductive or unnecessary, we are already well down a perilous, slippery slope.”
Most recently, Charlie’s case is back in the courts after his parents raised 1.3 million pounds for the nucleoside therapy. We don’t know what will happen next, but Christians are called to pray for Charlie, his parents, and to stand up for lives of others that might be considered of “no benefit” to society.
Crosswalk.com editor Liz Kanoy writes that being pro-life is much more than opposing abortion. Pro-life means taking a stand for all life.
She says, “... if we want our culture and the world at large to understand what we mean by pro-life and why it’s important, then we need to treat the disabled, the different, and even our enemies in a way that honors the image we are made in and brings glory to the name of Jesus.”
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap. Carrie and her husband Dustin are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first baby, a daughter, in October 2017.
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