Little Charlie Gard: The Rise of Statism and the Abolition of Man

Sometimes an issue or event is so momentous that it is well worth talking about more than once. Just yesterday I discussed three recent cases of euthanasia (or cases closely related to it), and one of them was so significant and so shocking that it clearly needs to be revisited.

It demonstrates how the rise of the all-powerful state, bereft of any Judeo-Christian foundations, is bringing about the end of man. It celebrates death while despising life. It takes away ordinary decision-making from the individual, and puts it in the hands of bureaucrats and state apparatchiks.

euth 8The story involves little Charlie Gard who was born last August with an inherited disease. His parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard were told by their English doctors that nothing could be done and he should be withdrawn from his ventilator. They learned of possible help that was available in the US and had raised over $1.6 million to help fund this last ditch effort to save their son.

But last week the European Court of Human Rights rejected their appeal, and the death sentence is still in place. Now they must simply wait for their baby to die (to effectively be killed by the state). As one expert that I quoted yesterday said, “Death with dignity, in the minds of these medical professionals, means those they have decided are no longer worth fighting for must die faster.”

This is an utterly shocking case. Sadly, when I shared this story elsewhere I had at least one person saying this is no big deal, and that ‘the proposed US treatment is experimental and unlikely to help.’ I replied as any normal parent would: “If it was your own ten-month old son would you take such a cavalier attitude? Sorry, I am not siding with the pro-death bureaucrats here.”

The bottom line goes like this: this is all about a handful of doctors and a handful of judges demanding the death of this ten-month old. The killer state is now in full swing. Or as Matt Walsh put it, “In Europe, a mother has the right to kill her child but she doesn’t have the right to keep him alive. This is barbarism.”

Indeed, his piece on this is worth quoting from further:

I have heard many people rationalize this demented decision by saying “the doctors know best.” That may well be relevant and true in situations where family members are trying to force doctors to administer treatments that they, the medical professionals, know will not work. But that is not what’s happening here. The only thing these parents are trying to “force” the doctors to do is relax their grip so the child can be taken to different doctors in a different country. The doctors may be the final authority on what kinds of medical measures they personally should take, but they are not the final authority over life itself. It is one thing for them to say, “I will not do this treatment.” It’s quite another for them to say, “You are not allowed to have this treatment done by anyone. You must die.” The former is reasonable. The latter is euthanasia. This baby is being euthanized. By barbarians.

He highlights three vital points in this case:

1) This is what happens with socialized medicine.
2) This is what happens when parental rights are subordinate to the State.
3) This is what happens when human life is not considered sacred.

I invite you to read his entire article. He concludes with these words:

Once the right to die has been placed over the right to life, death will continue claiming new ground and eating into life more and more. Death is a destructive force. What else can it do but consume? It’s not quite as bad here yet, but we’re getting there. We already kill hundreds of thousands of children in the womb, and we often speak with admiration of people who make the “brave” decision to commit suicide. And we already, in many instances, place the authority of the State over the rights of parents. Our education system is built around that philosophy.

Another thing I wish to emphasise here are some very prescient remarks made by C. S. Lewis way back in 1947. In yesterday’s article a gal very helpfully offered a sentence from this work in a comment, so I quickly searched for my copy of the book and will offer more of it here.

In his vitally important volume The Abolition of Man Lewis offers three essays on modern education and the modern state. He speaks of the increasing power of the state and of scientific elites, and how this entails power over the masses. He writes:

What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument. . . . Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well.

He speaks about how many have thought that the state and its power of education can mold a new man, one in the image of the all-powerful state:

Hitherto the plans of educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted and indeed, when we read them — how Plato would have every infant ‘a bastard nursed in a bureau’, and Elyot would have the boy see no men before the age of seven and, after that, no women, and how Locke wants children to have leaky shoes and no turn for poetry — we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses. But the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.

Notice how he speaks about ordinary mothers and children as being part of the bulwark to resist these nefarious plans. We see the same thing occurring in this horrific euthanasia case. The medical and judicial communities have decided they know what is best in this case, and they will decide who shall live and who shall die.

The parents are the last ones to have any say in the matter. They are at the mercy of the technocrats, bureaucrats, and the increasingly powerful and godless state. This is brave new world kind of stuff, and Lewis was warning about it a full seventy years ago.

He might even be shocked at this case. He too would weep for little Charlie and his parents. He too would be amazed at the secular state running amok. Sadly the warnings he gave on this went unheeded. Indeed, he wrote often about this theme, most notably in That Hideous Strength (1946) and The Weight of Glory (1949).

But let me return to this case and bring in one more commentator. Ian Tuttle says this about the case:

The logic of this decision — that a patient’s best interests can be conclusively determined by an objective third party possessed of adequate “scientific” knowledge — will be familiar to anyone who has watched state power over issues of life and death expand throughout the Western world in recent years. In the early 2000s, this logic was at work in the Terri Schiavo case, in which American courts took it upon themselves to ascertain Schiavo’s unexpressed will and enact it; inevitably, they endorsed her death, on the grounds that she would not want to live “with no hope” in her present vegetative state.
Likewise, in Europe, medical “expertise” has been not simply a justification for, but an encouragement to, assisted suicide; guidance from medical professionals has more than a little to do with the fact that, in Belgium and the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe, assisted suicide is now an acceptable remedy for people suffering not just from terminal illnesses but from depression, autism, and anorexia. Under what circumstances should the tightest bonds of affection — those between parent and child — be subordinated to the judgment of the state?

He concludes with words that echo the concerns of Lewis:

The precedent established by Charlie Gard’s case will metastasize, as similar decisions have. It will be made to apply to children with more-familiar illnesses and better prognoses; it will be used to dismiss the input of parents whose values and priorities when it comes to medical care and end-of-life issues do not align with those of the state; it may be used simply to clear beds for “worthier” patients in a health-care system with very limited resources. This, presumably, will be “compassionate,” too. Any day now, they’ll kill Charlie Gard. But it’s in his own best interest. Don’t you see?

So what can you do about all this? A bit of righteous indignation would be a good place to start. Learning about the horrors of euthanasia and becoming a pro-life advocate would be another good step. You can also pray for this family. Finally, there is a petition you can sign on this:

The horrors that Lewis warned about are now fully upon us. We are not just witnessing the abolition of man, but of individual men, including poor little Charlie Gard.

[1595 words]

26 Replies to “Little Charlie Gard: The Rise of Statism and the Abolition of Man”

  1. I had just read Charlies’ story on another site Bill. Thanks for putting his story out in this way again. Everyone will do well to read the petition. I signed it. Let every one of us who believe in Jesus Christ take to our hearts Romans 8:28, apply the wisdom of this verse to Charlie and then work with God for Him and for Charlie and his parents and all the generous people who raised the money. And let us hate that which is hated by God our Father.

  2. Thanks for the link to the petition. Apart from that, I feel like there are no words to express my deep grief over this decision. Lord have mercy.

  3. So doctors believe they have an entity unto themselves deciding who when how and why to kill an innocent child who deserves and has as much right as they do to live a full healthy and abundant life of great health wealth and success.
    At what point do mere human beings of no greater significance then the next person just because they obtained a medical degree somewhat gives them a licence to kill and disregard another human life?

    The freedom and rights of every person is that they are entitled to medical treatment and that they also are entitled to a second and a third opinion, rather then one who takes it upon himself to decide that he is judge jury and executioner as is such the case here.
    The way mankind is going in this day and age, we are fast becoming crueller, more selfish as well as heartless, and compassion and empathy are fast and rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
    My heart breaks for this precious child, a gift from God as all children are, and these monsters who are abusing their powers, are denying this boy life, once upon a time I was under the illusion that doctors studied and trained to become medical practitioners to help and care for others.
    What a fool I am to be so naïve and gullible as its one care to read about, but there are thousands more world wide every day that we don’t often hear about.

    May God have mercy on their souls and bless little Charlie Gard as he finds a miracle from God above

  4. I feel devastated the doctors are taking this option when God does say that we should not kill. While there is life there is hope.

  5. I wonder if this decision by the doctors violates the Hippocratic Oath.

  6. Thanks Anthony. Given that Primum non nocere (Latin for “First do no harm”) is a major part of the Hippocratic oath, that would certainly be the case. But likely many medical practitioners today would not even have heard of the Oath. It is seldom taught anymore in Western med schools.

  7. The claim is that the child is suffering pain but there are systemic pain killers for that. babies that age are pain tolerant to an unbelievable extent. If the cure works there may be brain damage but there are ways now to treat that now. Even if the cure fails more knowledge is gained and that may advance the cure and save the next kid. There is also no cost to the government, at all in this case because the kid is fully crowdfunded. Yet the government was willing to spend on the lawyers but not the cure.
    It raises the question why the government and the doctors would take this stand. Is it purely a matter of personal perceptions of power or professional jealousy that America has an experimental treatment and Europe does not?

    It should be noted that if animal testing on cryogenics was not stopped a decade and a half ago then that solution may have been available in this case. Put the kid on ice for a few years while a cure is found. Dogs were successfully frozen and revived with no signs of undue distress or brain damage 15 years ago and promptly after that success many barriers to further research were put in place.

  8. I personally know several people who were advised to abort babies due to scans showing they were “brain dead”, yet they had a normal, healthy birth.
    Glad they ignored the experts.
    Doctors do a lot of good, but can be at risk of playing God.
    Bureaucrats almost never do any good, and are always playing God.
    And yes, due to advances in medical technology (I used to design some of it) a lot of money can buy all sorts of medical help. So there are very difficult decisions where someone could live a little longer if you spent millions on them… but this decision certainly isn’t one of those situations.

  9. It is horrifying that this baby boy is effectively being imprisoned by the State until he dies. This is the torture of loving parents.

  10. Signed. Since when is a hospital a prison? What on earth could the parents possibly do, at home, that endangers their son more than the hospital literally killing him?

  11. It is terrifying! Only God can save that little boy and his parents. Where are the rights of little Charlie?!

  12. Another glaring example of a totalitarian state. Let’s pray for a miracle for Charlie and may God have mercy on those involved in any way in this barbarous development.

  13. No because no amount of experience in office and the courts can change one’s DNA to turn his back on his fatherly duties.
    In short: No he couldn’t be as objective and impartial to make the right call.

  14. It appears that the Pontifical Academy of Life has issued a statement that does not make a clear cut statement in support of Connie’s and Chris’s efforts. You can read it in full here:

    It suggests that there are limits to medicine and in this case Charlie’s parents “too must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation and not be left to face their painful decisions alone”.

    What an appalling and befuddled view they have. A well-written article that critics this decision is available below and makes the point that the case is clear and certainly not complex in the basic morals of the case (even if the medical condition itself is complex, even challenging to treat).

    It seems this group of individuals in the Catholic Church (and that does not mean all parts of the Catholic Church) have lost their way. What an awful indictment on them.

  15. Its the world we are living in, a fallen world where we are faced with dealing with many atrocities, this being one of them.
    Doctors swear oaths to protect, save and preserve lives not destroy or deny them.

  16. Bill
    I must have missed something here. Why does the bureaucracy have a say in this little boys treatment. If the parents had the funds, why could not they have arranged to take him to the USA for treatment?
    I recall once having our son in hospital where the specialist decided to operate in circumstances where we (his parents) thought that was inappropriate. We removed him from the hospital and took him to another hospital under the care of another specialist and our son recovered under the other specialist’s care without surgery. Doctors can give advice. They cannot act without the parents’ consent nor can they prevent the parents from taking whatever action they like where the parents are funding what they are doing.

    I would appreciate your clarification on the point.

  17. Thanks David. Sadly it seems to be part and parcel of the socialised medicine regime in the UK. When parents disagree about a child’s treatment options, often the courts are called to step in and make a decision. It seems those decisions are binding. As to how exactly the decision is enforced I am not sure. Do they confiscate passports in this case for example? And it is common for outside authorities to step in and make a decision on behalf of parents if and when they are deemed to be incompetent in, or incapable of, making their own decisions – but that does not seem to be the case here with these parents. They are fully of sound mind it appears. Welcome to socialised medicine where bumping off a patient is cheaper than trying to keep him alive!

  18. I liked this article by Wesley J. Smith, writing for First Things that you posted elsewhere and used these closing remarks:

    “The refusal to allow Charlie’s parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors’ choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents’? Or are sick babies—and others facing futile-care impositions—ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?”

    This is saying in effect the government owns you. Next they will tell adults whether they are worthy of living.

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