Monday, July 17, 2017

Does Pro-Life Language Regarding Charlie Gard Prove the Pro-ChoiceArgument?

Does Pro-Life Language Regarding Charlie Gard Prove the Pro-Choice Argument?

Over the last few days the Charlie Gard situation has ignited into an inferno within the pro-life community. 

Arguments by those who support GOSH, because they believe his dignity is best protected by allowing him to die "peacefully" by removing his ventilator, make up one camp. The other side of the debate is made up of those who are outraged at the idea of "death with dignity" due to strong pro-life positions on assisted suicide and euthanasia.

This is being argued out on both sides in terms of "parental rights", and how far they extend when you've got a gravely ill child. Those who support GOSH have come out strong for hospital personnel and medical professionals, who they believe have the better handle on the situation. Those who support Charlie's parents are crying foul on terms of traditional beliefs when it comes to parents and children.

In the middle of this maelstrom comes a strong warning from some pro-lifers who have noted our language in terms of "who decides" is eerily similar to the pro-choice camp: in pushing this as solely a parental rights issue, our rallying call has become, "parents have the ultimate authority over their children's life and death", when it comes to serious illness and birth defect. We are setting a dangerous precedent here, as we are using the pro-choice language of our opponents to justify overturning the court order which will end the life of Charlie Gard. 

I myself fell victim to this rhetoric, and while I still hold my position that when it comes to a medical decision a parent has authority over medical professionals, I would like to make one clarification: a parent should not ever have the option of removing life support from a child who is still living, which is the case with Charlie Gard. 

Charlie Gard is alive, and he is fighting. 

What does this mean? 

That he has a right to potentially life-saving treatment not because his parents have decided they would like to pursue it, but because he is a human being with inherent value. This speaks to the core of our pro-life mission at Save the 1: we fight for the exceptional cases where even pro-life persons may waver on their life ethics. We do this because we understand the question isn't whether a woman should have the right to end the life of a child, but rather, whether a pre-born child is human and deserving of equal protections under the law. 

Because the questions which seem to be causing so much division revolve around potential pain and suffering, any conversation must include information about this. 

There is absolutely no definitive proof Charlie Gard is suffering, and furthermore, with the extent of damage the hospital is claiming, there are legitimate medical arguments to dispute the idea that he's in pain. Without going into too much detail and getting sidetracked: the type of damage they are claiming he has would also affect his body's ability to process pain. His condition leaves him unable to feel pain, as the relevant proteins needed for this process are missing. 

What people are perceiving as pain is really scary photos of him on a ventilator- but when we put aside our emotions on this one, reality tells us people can live full lives while on a ventilator. 

Back to the central issue: Even if he were capable of feeling pain, pain is treated with palliative care, not death. Charlie Gard's case is less relevant in terms of whether the suffering individual should be euthanized (by either doctors or parents), and much more relevant in terms of the rights of the disabled people to live to their own potential vs. the potential society decides to set for them, in terms of quality of life.

In addition to this, Charlie Gard's parents have said in interviews that critical information may have been withheld from the court. They have clarified there are many more physicians who are now in consensus with them and the physicians who hope to treat him in the US. 

These doctors are working for Charlie. Not his parents, not GOSH, and certainly not the pro-life superstars who've shown up at his bedside (no insult intended).

These doctors recognize a possibility for success with treating Charlie Gard, and for the sake of all humanity, maybe we should too. 

It's not about who has the right to decide how he's treated, but about whether a desperately ill child has the right to potentially curative medication. We believe he does, and we are firmly in 
Charlie's camp on this one- not because we believe his parents have the right to decide whether he lives or dies, but because our little niche of the pro-life stratosphere is home to the most desperate of cases- children whom the rest of the pro-ilife world sees only as bargaining chips. We've seen the power of life in little Faith, and Christian, and Angela, and once you see those tiny miracles, it's impossible to believe our God may have a bigger plan for Charlie Gard. 

We hope you too support Charlie Gard- not because you put yourself in his parents shoes, or you believe the government health system has overstepped its boundaries. We hope you support Charlie Gard because he deserves this chance to live to his potential, whatever that potential may be.

BIO:  Sarah St. Onge is a wife, mother of 4, step-mother of 2, and pro-life blogger for Save The 1.  She blogs on faith, grief, loss, and pro-life issues pertaining to continuing a pregnancy after a lethal anomaly has been diagnosed, at