I’m sure many of you are familiar with a really tragic and indeed outrageous situation going on right now in England with a little 10-month, 11-month old baby named Charlie Gard. Charlie was born with a rare and lethal cellular condition for which there is no known cure. And after many months as an inpatient at a British hospital, the doctors told Charlie’s parents that there was nothing more that they could do for him, and he should be taken off the special life support breathing equipment he needs to stay alive. However, his parents learned of new experimental treatment for Charlie’s condition that was being developed here in the US. And as they prepared to travel over to the States and pay the exorbitant costs associated with the treatment, they actually raised over $1.5 million dollars, I believe through a crowd funding source, at the very least through an internet campaign. But stunningly, the doctors at the hospital overruled Charlie’s parents and refused to discharge Charlie, who as part of this socialized healthcare system is for all practical purposes now a ward of the state.
Charlie’s parents took this to court, of course, but every British court sided with the hospital’s concern that their taking Charlie to the US and subjecting him to these experimental procedures would incur unnecessary suffering for Charlie. His parents made a final appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which quickly in turn rejected their appeal. The Court said that the hospital most certainly could overrule Charlie’s parents and yank their son’s life support against the parent’s wishes. And in so doing they lifted legally the interim measure that prevented the hospital from removing Charlie’s life support. Now, this is the same court, this so-called Court of ‘Human Rights,’ that just ruled that the Russian law banning homosexual propaganda towards minors is a violation of human rights. You can kill, KILL a near year-old baby, that’s not a violation of human rights, but protecting little Billy from watching a bunch of homos molesting each other, oh no no; that is not a violation of human rights. A good liberal democratic society should have rainbow flags celebrating sodomy all over the place, and then little Billy can learn all about for himself. That is human rights today.
Now, of course there’s been nothing less than mass outrage expressed throughout the international community. Pope Francis stated that the hospital should honor the wishes of the parents, and has in fact offered to have baby Charlie transferred to the Vatican’s children’s hospital. President Trump, too, tweeted this if he could help the family and the Vatican in any way, he would be glad to do so.
In light of these offers of compassion, the response from none other than Boris Johnson, the Brexit supporter and conservative member of the British Parliament, was absolutely bizarre; he came out and said that little Charlie can not be moved to the Vatican’s children’s hospital because of legal reasons. The conservatives in Britain were talking like this. I mean, even the ultra-liberal Cher who hates Trump has come out and pleaded on her twitter account that something needs to be done to save this little boy. And by the way, to my knowledge, she’s the only one. She’s the only secular liberal that I found who is speaking out on behalf of Charlie. The only one; save for Ruth Marcus of the fake news outlet The Washington Post, whose op-ed headlines with “The dying child who became an ideological football.” Thanks, Ruth; keep up the great work.
Now if you’ve been wondering as I have where the pro-life advocates are among the members of the European Parliament who oversee this insane court and when are they going to speak out against this statist travesty, well, finally, they’ve begun to surface. The website Agenda Europe is reporting that Members of the European Parliament from 15 member states have published an open letter criticizing the Court for their decision, and in the letter they expressed their, “deepest concerns about the outrageous outcome of Charlie’s case, which infringes Europe’s most fundamental values, particularly the right to life, the right to human dignity and personal integrity.”
And listen to what they wrote:
The State, all its bodies and public authorities, are here for its citizens to help and protect them. This is the fundamental principle underlying modern democratic systems. How is it then possible that even today, in the 21st century, in times when we ourselves designate our era as one which respects fundamental values of life and human dignity, that the United Kingdom does not act in the best interest of its citizens? Is this truly the way we want to go?
We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament, intend to answer with a clear “NO” and strongly condemn the shameful conduct that undermines these values of our civilised society.
Now the next thing to do is shut down this lunatic asylum known as a court system for human rights which has been nothing but a threat to our very notion of what it means to be human.
Now the latest news is that British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is leaving the door open for Charlie to receive treatment either in the Vatican City or in the US; well, what do you know? There is a human person with compassion within Britain involved with this case; thank you………. And by the way, Three cheers to the March for Life organization, which of course organizes every year the largest pro-life march in the US, three cheers to them for launching a campaign that has brought worldwide attention to this human rights travesty. God bless the March for Life and all the amazing work they are doing.
Now, this whole tragic situation should be a lesson to us regarding the unintended consequences that are necessarily entailed in universal state-run healthcare. Those who advocate government run healthcare have to come to terms with the fact that inevitably under such a system, the dignity of the human person takes a back seat to the priority of the economy. Universal healthcare inevitably but always dehumanizes the very people that such care claims to help; it always replaces the inherent dignity of the human person with a new standard of bureaucratic evaluation rooted in the impersonal mechanistic processes of economy and utility.There’s no way around this: the decision to discriminately deny care to people designated by secularized professionals is an intrinsic component to government run health care. No way around it.
And perhaps, by the way, that’s why liberals don’t give a crap about Charlie; they trust these lives to the impersonal bureaucracy; I mean, he is only cells after all.
This should remind us why historically, throughout Western civilization, healthcare and philanthropy were serviced under the auspices of the Christian church. It was the Christian church that actually expanded the notion of healthcare and philanthropy as extending to all, since caring for others was part of this new universal social compassion inherent in the Christian gospel. Because Christ died for all, because Christ makes all things new, his compassion, his healing is to be offered to all without discrimination. So the church developed the Hebraic notion of human dignity rooted in the image of God and extended it to all the nations through the transformative life, death, and resurrection of Christ who makes all things new. And so, this emphasis on philanthropy led to our conception of the hospital as a care center for all. By the fourth-century, figures such as Ephraim the Syrian and Basil the Great established hospitals for those ravaged by plagues or leprosy. St. Benedict made caring for the sick a priority for his developing monastic order, and by the twelfth-century the Benedictines had established over 2,000 hospitals throughout Western Christendom. And all of the hospitals provided social welfare as well, in that they were centers for food, clothing, and shelters for the poor, widows, and orphans.
Because the Christian church is the sole institution that affirms unwaveringly the innate dignity of the human person, in that the church alone is the custodian of the concept of the image of God, they’re maintenance of philanthropy and healthcare provides a bulwark for administering such care and compassion within fully human affirming auspices. And I most certainly hope that tragic events such as Charlie’s will inspire the church to take a far more proactive role in administering and directing healthcare so as to maintain the very humanity that such healthcare seeks to preserve.
Let’s all keep Charlie and his family in our prayers. Regardless of what happens this is going to be a very, very difficult path. May God richly bless them with his infinite love and compassion and indeed his resurrection healing during this time.
For more on baptism and the Apostle Paul’s vision of a sacramental society, see my book, The Ritualized Revelation of the Messianic Age: Washings and Meals in Galatians and 1 Corinthians, available here.