There's an international debate raging over the heartbreaking and morally complex case of British baby Charlie Gard, who has a rare and terminal genetic disease and currently requires a ventilator to breathe. The 11-month-old's parents are fighting to bring him to the United States for treatment; A succession of European courts have sided with his doctors in their belief that the boy should be removed from his life support instead. In an effort to grant the parents' wishes to try everything, two U.S. congressman are doing something huge for Charlie Gard in the form of bringing a bill before the House of Representatives to grant him residency in the country. This would then allow Charlie to get the experimental treatment his parents want him to have.
The two Republican representatives, Brad Wenstrup of Ohio and Trent Franks of Arizona, plan to bring the bill before their colleagues this week, according to NBC News. The move comes not long after President Donald Trump expressed his support for Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, in a tweet in which he claimed he would be "delighted" to do anything he could to help the boy. Pope Francis had even expressed a similar sentiment.
But Charlie's doctors in London maintain that artificially prolonging his life will only force him to suffer longer and that the experimental treatment will not be effective in combatting Charlie's mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which has rendered him blind, deaf and unable to move his arms and legs or breathe independently.
Armed with the knowledge that at least one hospital in the United States has offered to care for the infant if he were to be permitted, Wenstrup and Franks were emphatic in their belief that Charlie's parents should be permitted to make decisions for him. According to The Guardian, in a joint statement, the two explained,
Our bill will support Charlie’s parents' right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.
Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?
At a protest outside Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), the London children's hospital where Gard is staying, Charlie's mother echoed the sentiment. "There's nothing to lose, he deserves a chance," Connie Yates said, according to The Independent. The parents had implored authorities to allow their son to travel to the United States in the form of a petition boasting more than 350,000 signatures.
It had previously seemed as though Yates' and Gard's chances of getting what they wanted for their son had been extinguished when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the baby should be removed from life support. But the hospital asked England's High Court to hear the case again Friday because of "claimed" new evidence that there's hope for Charlie, including the fact that New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center offered to admit him for experimental treatment, The Washington Post reported.
The medical staff at GOSH is nevertheless steadfast in their assessment that the proposed therapies would not help Charlie. "Not only that, but they said it would be futile and would prolong Charlie’s suffering," the hospital said in a statement, according to The Post. "This is not an issue about money or resources, but absolutely about what is right for Charlie."
Yates and Gard, of course, see it differently and want to do whatever they can to help their son. With the possibility that the court will hear their case again and with Wenstrup and Franks about to introduce their bill to the House, they may just get the opportunity to explore other options, after all.