Some very sad news from Great Britain: the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard have given up their legal fight to free him from a “pull-the-plug” order and bring him to the US for an experimental treatment for his neurological disorder. After examining the child, the American specialist who developed the treatment broke the news that his muscular atrophy was too advanced and is irreversible, so the treatment would do no good.
There will be those who argue that maybe that wouldn’t be the case if he’d received the treatment sooner, but that’s impossible to say for certain. But at least it would have saved his parents the agony of not only seeing their child suffering but having to fight multiple layers of government just to try to get him help. The only thing that can be said for sure about this heartbreaking story is that it made it abundantly clear that decisions about life-saving medical treatments for small children should be made by parents, and in a timely manner. Even if giving Charlie treatment earlier couldn’t have helped him, there are other children who might benefit, and they would likely be blocked by NHS bureaucracy, too. The role of doctors in determining how to treat a child should be advisory, and the role of bean-counting bureaucrats, judges and UN functionaries should be nonexistent.
It’s tragic that Charlie can’t be saved. But if this sad and disturbing story causes both Europeans and some Americans to rethink their misguided fantasies about how wonderful government health care is, then maybe countless lives will be saved in the future.