The case of the British baby, Charlie Gard, who was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes brain damage and early death is gripping the sensibilities of those of us who are watching this tragedy unfold. After going through review by multiple courts in the United kingdom the final verdict has been delivered by the European Court of Human Rights.
The verdict is death, overriding the parent’s wishes and heroic attempts to pursue an experimental treatment in the United States funded by privately raised resources. The life-sustaining ventilator will be removed any day.
The Honorable Mr. Justice Nicholas Francis of the British High Courts Family Division wrote in a summary released to the media:
“Some people may ask why the court has any function in this process, why can the parents not make the decision on their own? The answer is that, although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective in the child’s best interest.”
How did European thinking reach a point where judges determine what is in the child’s “best interest” and “most compatible with maintaining Charlie’s dignity” in opposition to the expressed desires of involved parents? Could it happen here in America?
It starts by abdicating our parental sovereignty and authority in seemingly insignificant ways. For the sake of our children it is time to start recognizing and questioning overreaching bureaucratic mandates. We had an incident recently that highlights how most parents blindly follow the dictates of the “experts."
One of our sons was enrolled to take two agriculture classes at our local public high school. He attended classes for two hours every other day and was homeschooled the rest of the time. After being in school several months, I was informed that he was required to have a complete physical on file in the nurse’s office. I was confused since we had provided immunization records and he did not play school sports.
When I inquired as to why this was necessary, the school nor the district knew why, but a decree had come down from the Department of Education that required it. After talking with many officials, the most coherent response was they needed to make sure our son came to school “ready to learn.” I informed them that was my job, not theirs and no physical would be forthcoming.
They threatened to ban him from classes until I produced one.
After a battle of the wills and threats to go to the media so they could explain to the public why confidential health information needed to be on file with the school, the school did not broach the subject again.
During the course of the conversation with the school, I was informed I was the only parent who had ever questioned the mandate or objected. I was shocked and dismayed that parents did not even ask the reason for this newly implemented policy: they just complied because those in authority told them they had to. The policy makers apparently did not anticipate anyone questioning their decree because they did not have an answer to my questions why this was necessary. They just expected parents to submit to their decision.
Questioning decisions by government agencies that affect our children is part of our responsibility as parents and neglecting to do so will take us further down the road of the state seizing more of our parental rights. Recently we have seen our right to spank our children be infringed upon, the right to direct our children’s educations being compromised, and the authority of the states expanded to allow certain social service agencies to remove children from homes without warrants or court orders.
Even our decisions to let our children play outside or walk to the park unsupervised has brought the wrath of the state down on some families.
It may seem a far stretch to compare a school district’s demands for physicals for every student over parental objections to a court judge refusing to allow the parents of a sick child to seek privately funded treatment, but the principle of eroding parental authority is the same. Contrary to what Judge Francis wrote, God did not give the government the authority to determine what is in the overriding best interest of the children. He gave it to the parents.
Somewhere along the line, enough parents in Great Britain did not question the creeping overreach by their government in the lives of their children and now little Charlie Gard has been handed a death sentence.