Now some Kansas conservatives also are speaking up about the terminally ill baby, drawing comparisons to Simon’s Law, which went into effect Saturday in Kansas.
“We believe every one of us is created in the image of God and has dignity, and that includes Charlie even though he’s sick and small,” said Eric Teetsel, president of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas. “We believe he has the right to live.”
Born with a rare genetic condition and resulting brain damage, Charlie is unable to move his arms or legs, eat or breathe on his own.
His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, raised nearly $2 million to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment, but doctors objected.
A legal battle ensued, with three British courts ruling that Charlie should be taken off his life support.
The France-based European Court of Human Rights refused to hear the case on June 27, upholding the previous rulings that said further treatment would cause Charlie “significant harm,” the New York Times reported.
London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital was scheduled to take Charlie off of life support last Friday but postponed it.
“(The) decision by the European Court of Human Rights marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie’s parents as we prepare for the next steps,” the hospital told the New York Times.
Kansans for Life has followed the case since at least April, posting often about it on its blog.
An April 28 post drew comparisons to Simon’s Law, which Gov. Sam Brownback signed on April 7.
Simon’s Law prohibits hospitals from issuing a do-not-resuscitate order for a child without parental consent.
“(Charlie’s) parents never asked that hospital to give any unendorsed medication,” said Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for Kansans for Life. “They just asked to remove their child from one set of doctors to another set of doctors, and they were prohibited from doing that. … To them (the hospital and courts), his existence is not worth living.”
Simon’s Law was pushed in part by Kansans for Life and is named after Simon Crosier, a 3-month-old who died in 2010. Crosier had a genetic disorder and was given a do-not-resuscitate order. His parents say they were not told of the order.
“Just because a child is born with a disability does not mean their life is of any less precious or valuable nature,” Brownback said in a weekly radio spot after signing the bill.
Teetsel also saw the similarities between Charlie’s story and Simon’s, saying both involved parents who were unable to have the final say in their child’s medical care.
On Monday, Melika Willoughby, communications director for Brownback, retweeted a paragraph about Charlie from her personal Twitter account.
Teetsel later retweeted that tweet, adding, “Parents and guardians alone should be responsible for making these decisions. #life.”
Although Charlie’s story is unfolding in Europe, Teetsel said it resonates with people as far away as Kansas both because of the tragedy and because people fear that hospitals and courts may have more say than parents over a child’s care in the United States. Charlie’s story illustrates a larger debate about parental rights and the nature of law, he said.
“The possibility that what is happening to Charlie could happen to little babies in Kansas is certainly a prospect that we plan to take every measure to fight against,” he said.