Monday, July 24, 2017

Charlie Gard: the inevitable result of a post-Christian world

I'm sure my readers have been following the sorry, tragic saga of Charlie Gard.

The real issue here is, who has parental authority over a child?  Is it the infant's natural, physical parents?  Or are they merely acting as custodians for the State?  In a post-Christian world, the latter view appears to be in the ascendant - and that should trouble not only Christians, but anyone who favors individual rights, freedoms and liberties over the authority of the 'nanny State'.

Charlie’s parents, Chris and Connie, have raised over a million dollars to bring Charlie over to America for an experimental treatment. But England’s health service seems to believe they know better than Charlie’s own parents. The National Health Service, NHS, told his parents he should be left to “die with dignity.”

Socialized medicine takes the human element out of health care and looks at illnesses and diseases in a strictly cost-based, quantitative view. If the likelihood of survival is low, the “national health experts” won’t take the “risk” with treatment. Never mind that the parents have already made plans to take the risk somewhere else.

However, the Charlie Gard case speaks to the ... redefinition of marriage in a broader, cultural sense. And this immorality affects medical care and health insurance, which leads to a socialized medicine with a subhuman view of man, while bestowing deity-like prominence on the State.

It isn’t just about denying parental rights in the medical treatment and health care of Chris and Connie’s child. It is denying they are even Charlie’s ultimate parents at all.

. . .

Charlie Gard isn’t just an example of the failures of socialized medicine. You’re thinking too small. It is the denial of true liberty.

There's more at the link.

This case is a direct, immediate warning to Americans of the likely consequences of single-payer health care.  The Chicago Tribune points out:

Why does the British government have such wide authority over Charlie's treatment? One big reason: Because the government funds a single-payer health system, picking up medical costs for British citizens.

We imagine many Americans reassure themselves that this country's largely private system of health insurance would never be so dismissive of a parent's right to make decisions about a child's health care. Or deny a parent the right to take a child home to die.

But this medical drama, no matter anyone's opinion, foreshadows the difficult decisions to come if America converts its medical insurance system into a single-payer model. (Note that "single-payer" is a euphemism for government-controlled health spending and care.)

The prospect of single-payer here isn't far-fetched: Medicare and Medicaid already account for about 38 percent of U.S. health care spending. Democratic politicians have floated the notion of lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55, or of a broader Medicare-for-all. Before Obamacare became law in 2010, there also was talk of a so-called public option — a government-run plan — to compete with private plans on market exchanges. That was widely seen as a Trojan horse for single-payer.

. . .

Bottom line: Single-payer is no panacea. Free treatment isn't free. Somebody — everybody — pays. To which proponents of single-payer would retort: Private insurers aren't models of generosity: Sometimes they pay for costly new treatments, sometimes they don't.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates probably never thought they'd be in this predicament, arguing with the British government about whether they could take a child home to die. Nor could anyone predict that a critically ill infant far from U.S. shores would provide one more reason for Americans to remain wary of a single-payer system.

Again, more at the link.

When Obamacare was introduced, there was much talk about so-called 'death panels'.  Opponents of the law warned of them;  supporters derided the very idea.  Well, the case of Charlie Gard demonstrates conclusively that in the absence of a morality that values human life as worthwhile in and of itself, even in the absence of any reference to a Divinity;  that sees human life as intrinsically valuable, rather than measuring that value in terms of dollars and cents . . . death panels are inevitable.  The British courts are, right now, functioning as a death panel in the case of Charlie Gard.

As a retired pastor, you'll understand that my own position on this is clear.  Others will doubtless differ.  Nevertheless, I pray most sincerely that God will protect young Charlie Gard from those who would see him dead, rather than allow his parents to spend their own funds and those donated by supporters, to give him a chance at life.  If his death is inevitable, let it occur;  but let it not be dictated by bureaucratic fiat, or imposed by a godless, indifferent State, overriding the wishes of his parents.

For the rest of us . . . the case of Charlie Gard illustrates the perils of allowing the State to dictate what health care we may, or should, receive.  "He who pays the piper, calls the tune":  and if we allow the State to pay the piper, we should not be surprised to find that we have no say at all in what he plays.  I'm absolutely certain that in time, this will extend to telling older people that they may no longer consume the lion's share of health care dollars, as they have in the past.  It's more cost-effective to let them die, because their utility to society is less than that of younger, more productive, less unhealthy people.  If you think that won't happen, explicitly or implicitly, there's this bridge in Brooklyn, NYC I'd like to sell to you.  Going cheap!  Cash only, please, and in small bills.

We have been warned.



RHT447 said...

Here in the USA, I see death panels as a 3'fer for .gov. I will use myself as an example at such time that I go to my great reward.

1) All that Social Security I was going to be paid? Nope, .gov gets to keep that.

2) All that money that single payer was going to spend for my health? Nope, .gov doesn't have to spend it now.

3) Tell the younger generations what freedom and liberty used to be like? Nope, I'm not around anymore.

Old NFO said...

RHT said it better than I can. And I wonder if the warning will even be 'heard' by the millennial generation, since they are still young and healthy...

Jeff Weimer said...

Yes, private insurers aren't models of generosity, but one has recourse in a relatively open, private market.

When a *monopoly* refuses you a product or service, where can you go?

Also, if the government is paying for your care, you are *not* the customer, you are a cost; the government is the customer and they will get what they pay for every single time.

Unknown said...

This case is even worse than "he who pays the piper calls the tune"

In this case the parents had the money to pay the medical bills themselves (donated to them, but that's beside the point), and the British Judges refuse to ALLOW THEM TO PAY FOR CARE FOR THEIR CHILD.

It's not just that the government run heath system refuses to pay, it's that they refuse to allow the parents to pay either.

David Lang

Margaret Ball said...

I disagree that the problem here is the NHS' disinclination to spend money on Charlie Gard. Undoubtedly there have been cases where that's an issue, and there will likely be many more. But in this case the attitude of the NHS would not be a problem were it not for the outsize role the British state plays in what should be private, personal decisions; specifically, the control over their children that British parents have ceded to the State. What's killing Charlie isn't the stinginess of the NHS; it wouldn't cost them one red cent - er, farthing - to let hiis parents take him to the US for treatment using privately raised funds. It's the power of the State to overrule the wishes of his parents.

Bbritain has gone much farther down the road to destruction of the family than we have. Let's take this as a warning.

"This is the State above the Law, / The State exists for the State alone."

Judy said...

As soon as you go to the doctor for prenatal care, your child has entered the system.

Borepatch said...

Things are much worse in the UK than gets much attention on these shores. What Charlie received is institutionalized as the "Liverpool Pathway":

Anonymous said...

Should be a cautionary tale to illustrate what happens when your government has more control over your body then the parent / responsible adults taking care of them. Very sad story, but I'm sure God already has a plan for Charlie when his time is up.

And maybe some plans for the people who are so interested in seeing this child expire too. I cannot fathom their motives to be so intent in their actions.

m4 said...

As noted above, this is nothing to do with money, and everything to do with the courts mandating an execution without the decency to call it what it is.

Peter B said...

Note the sequence of events:

First, his Charlie Gard's parents' power to make his health care decisions was stripped from them.

Then a pro-euthanasia attorney was appointed to represent Charlie's "interests."

Then the administrative process and hearings were slow walked until (assuming for the moment that there was some hope for had the experimental treatment been tried promptly) it was too late.

Because, you see, while Charlie Gard's parents had been able to raise money for his care, such funds aren't available for every child who might benefit from experimental treatment so it wouldn't be fair to spend money on one fortunate child.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you, and the thoughtful comments, I don't see how this is a "Christian" issue. Maybe Christians are different in the UK, but here in the US, I know plenty of Christians and they are, as a group, definitely not pro-liberty. They may oppose certain specific medical mandates, and they would probably be appalled at this specific situation, but they are not generally opposed to government control of many aspects of our health, and life, and our children's education. So, in spite of a strong Christian ethic here, our liberties continue to wither. So the warnings are well-taken, but we probably should not look to our Christian friends for salvation.


Anonymous said...

There was a somewhat bitter joke when I was in Belgium that people carried cards saying 'In case of Emergency, take me to a hospital in Germany." Belgium and Holland are far down the road of "euthanizing" anyone who decides that they are tired of living, and some that are not so tired, but who are over age 75. People are nothing more than subjects of the will of the State, like in the PRC but without the overt prisons and disappearances. Thus far.


Dan said...

Call it what you want....a .gov death panel, a company utilization review board, a preauthorization committee..... doesn't matter. When you expect to receive OPM.... Other people's money expect very least. Even a private insurance company can't afford to pay for 100% of the care for 100% of their customers. Doing so would cause bankruptcy. Therefore they MUST impose rules and choose certain conditions, procedures and care to pay for and by extension certain patients who are denied care. It's a fundamental economic reality. And NO such system is "fair" because someone ALWAYS loses....and to them that's not "fair". The ONLY truly fair and just way to pay for healthcare is you pay for what YOU can afford or yod don't get it. ANY OTHER METHOD requires inherent discriminatory choices.

David Lang said...

@Dan, this has nothing to do with Other People's Money, the court has decided that the parents were not allowed to spend the money they had (donated from others, but how they got it shouldn't matter) to save their child

Anonymous said...

Once again, the old sayings prove true.
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.
Here in the US, it's taken only about 100 years to go from never seeing the federal government unless you wanted to, to being pretty much unable to avoid it. In 1900, you could have moved to a remote spot, even in New York state, and never really had any contact with the feds apart from the Post Office. You would have needed to pay some property taxes to the state, but that's pretty much about all the interaction you would have with government of any sort.
20 or 30 miles out of town would have been enough, back then.
- Charlie

Dan said...

@David Lang The statements are generic and refer to 'single payer systems' specifically. In the case of the Gard child what we are seeing is first and
foremost the difference between the US and Britain where here we are citizens
and there they are subjects. Specifically the British gov is flexing it's
muscle and denied the family permission to leave the country. Here in America,
at least to date, we don't need permissions such as this although most of us
are keenly aware that those in power seek to obtain that level of control.

But back to the issue of healthcare and insurance..... anytime you expect something
that you don't pay for in it's entirety out of YOUR POCKET you can expect conditions
to be imposed and controls to exist.

Able said...

I'm … disappointed, I thought here at least 'some' people might have actually considered some of the facts of this case before rushing to a knee-jerk reaction.

OK, this is an extremely emotive and heart-rending story but … facts people.

This poor child has an incurable, untreatable, continuously progressing and increasingly debilitative/destructive genetic disorder (there is no cure, nothing done, or even ever claimed as possible will 'improve' that childs life one iota, or do anything other than prolong how long that childs body can remain on life-support, deteriorating further and further and … suffering all the while). He had every possible treatment and therapy (at the best hospitals with no expense spared) and …. only when his condition had deteriorated to such an extent that 'nothing' would make any difference (and further 'experimentation', to do nothing but prolong his life-support, could cause 'him' considerable more harm) did his parents (understandably clutching at straws) demand this experimental treatment (when it was already long past time for any possible chance of success). The doctors tried to explain its futility, the parents wouldn't/couldn't understand.

Disagree? OK, so only when the very research doctors themselves examined and confirmed that diagnosis did they finally understand (and dropped the lawsuit).

It has never been about the money (check GP funding and all the millions receiving treatment through private and foreign clinics/hospitals at NHS expense without complaint or qualm if you doubt that).

It has always been about (for you especially) the conflict that often arises between parental rights and 'the childs rights' and it is alarming just how many Americans have the view that 'all' children are 'all' (in every conceivable situation) parents (unrestricted) 'property'.

I'd suggest you visit a paediatric ER some time to see just what quite a large percentage (more than it is comfortable to contemplate) of 'parents' deem acceptable, even necessary for their 'property'. Even ostensibly normal, loving, caring parents can and do, and demand, the most extreme things in extremis. And not one of you would have the slightest problem in agreeing that someone, such as the medical team, act 'for the child' against their (yes, really and more often than you'll believe) parents 'insanity' (and if you did then I’d respectfully suggest 'you' have 'issues').


Able said...


So here? We have 'every' medical, nursing and allied medical professional (multiple, competing, adversarial, independent teams), social worker (who are adversarial against medical opinion by design, supporting patients), patient advocate, legal and judicial professional who has had access to the true facts feels that this entire issue was brought purely for 'the benefit of the parents' and that it was not, and was in fact tantamount to causing considerable harm, in the childs interests (infringing 'their' rights – not to be 'tortured' unnecessarily just to make the parents 'feel better' about themselves). (And yes, even that one medical exception, in the entire world, agreed unreservedly when they finally checked the actual clinical facts surrounding the childs condition!).

Yet all here, automatically, jump on the (leftist – guns should be banned for all because 'I' think 'I'd' misuse them, 'I' can't eat sensibly so no-one should be able to buy a burger or a large soda, etc., etc., etc.) 'everyone else is just like me' bandwagon – well see, here's the thing … they're not. 'You' 'may' in such circumstances remain entirely rational and place your childs welfare above your own denial/pipe-dreams/feelings but many, many people aren't/can't.

So? 'The State' was only involved as an impartial 'judge'. The case was the 'entirety of medical opinion representing the childs independent rights' versus the 'parents'. (Have a problem with 'some', very specific and strictly limited 'oversight' of parents actions? Then I’d suggest you … grow up and open your eyes).

Feeling superior? Claim it would be better there? Tot up the bill for care so far and I'll guarantee that unless you have a gold-plated, government, insurance scheme 'yours' would have reached its limits – you are aware you all have limited cover aren’t you? - long ago. In America, this child, like so many there needing normal, proven therapies, not some pie-in-the-sky experimental therapy, would be left uncovered and be dead long since. Don't believe me? Check your own town/county/State and see just how many get 'dumped' onto Medicare to get the bare-minimum care when their policies reach the limit, left to die because their parents aren't rich or 'connected'. Yeh, you go America!

(And don't get me started on how you unquestioningly fall for the media presentation so readily, the self-same media you 'know' will manipulate/exaggerate/lie to sensationalise a story, the media 'you' all deride and ignore … except when it fits your insecurities and preconceived ideas).

So? You all get on your imagined high horses demanding, vilifying a nation, to … prolong how long parents keep a childs body functioning (with ever increasing invasive and destructive therapies) for no other reason than they can't (understandably) accept the inevitable? How … moral of you all /hyper-sarc!

This? This … diatribe, this continuous and widespread anti-British screed, this tarring of not only hundreds of caring professionals, but an entire nation, has been nothing but American hypocrisy, jumping on a fact-free and uninformed hysteria because 'feelz' … I'm disappointed, I had a higher opinion of you.

Unknown said...

@Able, it is not true that there is no chance of improvement with this condition, there are people with this condition that have been helped with treatment.

It's also not true that every doctor has said that there is no chance of treatment helping, there are some who have said they think there is a chance of improvement.

As you say, this has never been about the money, so your diatribe against the US health care system is out of place (and I'll point out that the possible treatments for this condition are being developed in the US, not in any of the single-payer countries)

This has always been about who is the guardian of the child, and yes, in the US we have strong feelings that this should be the parents, not the state (except in the cases where the parents have shown themselves to be incompetent or abusive, which doesn't apply here)

The people fussing here are not fussing because the British health care system decided not to pay for additional treatment, but that they went a step farther than that and prohibited the parents from paying for treatment.

Your opinion that the State should be the primary advocate for the "child's rights" against the parents is abhorrent to Americans (again, except in cases of abuse or the parents being declared legally incompetent, which makes them wards of the state as well).

One Doctor I saw on TV talking about this said that in his opinion, the child cannot be helped, and if it was his child, he would let him go. But that that was a decision that the parents had a right to make for their child, especially when they aren't asking the state for money

Able said...


I beg to differ on the potential 'improvements' possible with this condition (N.B. Even the experimental therapy claimed to offer no more 'hope' than prolonging the period at which this childs body be kept 'functional' – no-one has ever claimed mitigation, let alone an 'improvement'. And the doctors involved in this therapy were professional enough to recognise even the futility of this for 'this' particular child on reviewing his actual clinical data/condition).

There may, as you say, be doctors who believe there is some chance, but 'all' those who have either examined the poor child, or had access to his clinical data 'do' state its 'futility' (so some doctor who doesn't know the case vs. those who do – who would you listen to? Medical 'talking heads' employed, at exorbitant fees, to spout a controversial opinion for the media … are legion, no? Hey, they aren't making a clinical judgement, not having been consulted, they're just spouting a 'personal opinion, right?).

Guardianship? I agree, and yes I can understand the vehemence, it is actually possibly even more an issue here than there. Don't believe me? 'Patients rights' (check our “Patients Charter”) have been an ever increasing 'problem' here for medical/nursing professionals (we have actual policies, procedures, regulations and laws that not only require, but enforce, the primacy of a patients wishes over medical judgement – can you say the same?) but you very rarely hear (I was one, so with some years of experience) any professional more than bemoan the 'paperwork' involved, never the 'rights' of a patient or relative to make, and override, those decisions.


Able said...


Parental rights? Again, I can guarantee we have probably more protections in this area than you do (less for fathers due to the feminist takeover of Social Services, but a mothers rights are effectively unlimited/unassailable here – by law!). (Yes, we have numerous cases where parental rights are limited, infringed upon and even removed … but they are 'all' the most extreme cases – unlike there where belonging to the wrong political party/faith/orientation can lose you your child, no? Judging 'our' services by how 'yours' act is the behaviour of an … idiot).

My point? Parents (even the best of them, in extremis, due to false-hope/denial/etc.) do not always do 'what is best for their children'? Yet the overwhelming clamour of most Americans, discussing this, is that parental rights should 'never, ever, under any circumstances be infringed', no? In almost every event, situation and circumstance a parents rights should be, and are, inviolate here. But, and but, and but … there are exceptions, and if you cannot conceive of such … what you are saying is that you believe a child 'has no rights' independent of their parents, that they are 'property'. Really? (As a professional I have witnessed, and cared for the victims, of such extreme, disgusting and obscene behaviour by 'parents', I'd dare you not to murder those 'paragons', you so gamely champion, on sight. Me, I'll fight for a childs rights in such situations, you? There are 'always' exceptions).

I can understand the emotive clamour, but what I despise is the knee-jerk condemnation of all involved, entire professions and a nation based on …. uninformed, manipulated (and yes, there really is a great deal of) hypocrisy (read elsewhere to see it, demands for military incursions, assassinations, sanctions – the list is endless, and almost universal).

(As an aside, just how would 'you' feel if 'we' started 'judging' - our Prime Minister offering aid, and criticising, condemning every professional, institution and your entire nation - to all those millions abused by your VA? How would that go down, yah think?)

A question (academic thankfully)? If your child was 'brain-dead', kept alive only by ever increasing, intrusive, destructive and painful procedures. If (by the very nature of their condition) they 'could never' improve.

Would you insist, demand, fight tooth and claw, to keep them receiving more and more therapies … to make 'yourself' (knowing nothing you or anyone else will ever be able to do will help 'them') 'feel better'? Would you?

And do you think there should be someone, some mechanism,that acts in your childs interests, even if that infringes on yours?

Unknown said...

David Lang says:

A child is not in a position to know what is best for them. It is the job of the Parents, not the State to decide what is in the best interest of their children.

This isn't a matter of the parents "owning" the child, it's not slavery, but violating the right of the parents to make the decisions for their child should only be done in extraordinary cases, and I don't believe that denying a person's right to pay for health care they want (other than a matter of unsafe care) is such an extraordinary case.

Parents ARE going to raise children in ways that others don't like. There are extremes that consider how the other extreme raises their children to be abuse (from Amish on one side to the parents who refuse to allow a gender to be applied to their child on the other)

If someone has a terminal condition, I would say that even the restraints on medical safety should be ignored, what care are they going to get that is worse than dieing without care? (They do also have the right to deny care for themselves).

When one person is exercising a medical Power of Attorney for the care of another, that person is making all the decisions as if they were the person being cared for (that's what a medical PoA is). Parents have a pretty close to unlimited PoA for their children. It's not "owning" the child any more than a wife having a PoA for her husband means that she "owns" him.

Able said...

A lucid and well stated argument, but …

You are correct, a child is unable to fully comprehend what is often in their best interests, even when well enough to do so (it's a reason we have the 'Gillick Competencies' so that older children can demonstrate that they do indeed comprehend and can thus make, independent, decisions about their own welfare – something your blanket 'parents are always right' would deny). In all but the most extreme cases, I (and the law of this land) agree that in such cases the parents wishes are paramount (not unchallengeable, as that assumes that 'all' parents will act in their childrens best interests, 'all' of the time – and that is demonstrably false in the extreme. The assumption here is that this not 'always' the case).

A question though. Does a childs lack of understanding remove its basic rights? (And yes, if you argue that a parents wishes override a child basic rights at all times, in all situations, and for whatever reason then you 'are' discussing property and slavery. I'm fully aware that the overwhelming majority of parents would do anything in their power to protect their children. Are you aware that there are many who … wouldn't, who see their children exactly as that, property to be used as they wish, for their benefit?)

This is where I believe we vary on the understanding of the case. As I have repeatedly stated, the presence or absence of the monies to pay for a procedure were, and are 'irrelevant'. I'd point you to matters related to both GP funding, and the 'Patients Charter' here. GP funding enforces the right of any NHS patient to use the funding 'anywhere they choose' to get 'the care they wish' be that privately or in a foreign clinic/hospital (as millions have already done so, without qualm or the slightest difficulty from the NHS). The Patient Charter? As already addressed, a patients wishes are paramount in all but extraordinary and extreme cases (and even then require multiple assessments, and challenges).

What is primary here was the 'benefit to the child' and 'the childs experience' (as separate from that of the parents – unless you're arguing whatever is good for a parent is automatically good for the child – that way lies those poor unfortunate young boys castrated and medicated because their parents believe it is 'in the childs best interests'. Do you support 'those' parental rights?). I can understand the argument that 'what difference would it make, the child is brain-dead and was/is dying' but that 'is' the very point. Do you believe it's acceptable to prod, poke, stick sizeable tubes in every orifice and pump noxious substances in and out of their body (been in an ITU/ICU, seen what it actually involves?) because …. hey, they can't consciously acknowledge it and Meh they're already dying, what difference does it make (especially if it makes a parent feel better)?

(Call me old-fashioned if you will but part of what makes us civilised is how we treat our dying and deceased … with respect and care, whether they are in a position to know, or even feel it.

Experimenting on a dying childs body, even it is what the parents wish for, to make 'them' feel better, is not what anyone with morals or ethics would agree is acceptable. No?)

The point is, this demand was 'never' about the child, even the parents will admit they never had any realistic/rational hope of a healthy, happy child they … simply wanted 'his body' to last a bit longer … for their piece of mind. As sad as that is, as much as I wish that were a possibility, I would never agree that this wish could override the importance of 'the childs' rights to a peaceful, pain free, dignified death. (AS I've said, I'd rather face a bitter grieving parent than 'know' beyond any doubt that I had caused a dying child to suffer unnecessarily just to keep those parents 'happy').

Unknown said...

David Lang writes:

> Does a childs lack of understanding remove its basic rights?

what "basic rights" are you referring to.

I believe that absence a showing of wrongdoing on the part of the parents, the parent's wishes should prevail over anyone else's. Especially over completely unrelated people.

I would suggest that you stop emphasizing how much you think the parents are hiding their true motives here, unless you have proof. It's equally possible that they have been thinking that the treatments could help the child, not to a normal childhood, but to a more functional state. There's also the fact that with a condition as rare as this, even failed treatment can provide a lot of learning that would help future treatments of others.

I am in a position where I may end up being asked to help, or not help individuals, and I will follow the wishes of the parents over my judgment on what's best for the child (especially when it comes to withholding treatment when the parents want a child treated)