Republican congressmen Trent Franks (Ariz.) and Brad Wenstrup (Ohio) announced Friday they will introduce a bill next week that, if passed, would grant Legal Permanent Resident status to 11-month-old Charlie Gard and his parents.
Charlie, a British baby born to Connie Yates and Chris Gard, is fighting for his life – both medically and legally. Born with a rare genetic condition that causes severe brain damage, Charlie’s been on life support since October. Doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital where Charlie’s being treated have argued that it’s unethical to keep the baby on a ventilator, saying there’s nothing that can be done to treat his condition.
Charlie’s parents, however, have raised over £1 million to bring their son to the United States for an experimental treatment at Columbia University – a path they say might be unsuccessful, but will at least give their son a chance.
After challenging the hospital through the British court system, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Charlie and his parents early last week, saying the terminally ill boy should be taken off life support against his parents’ wishes and allowed to “die with dignity.”
The ruling was met with an outcry from the pro-life community, and even garnered protests from Pope Francis and President Donald Trump, who tweeted the United States would be “delighted” to help Charlie if at all possible. There have even been reports that the Trump administration has been in contact with British government officials in regard to the case.
Franks’ and Wenstrup’s bill would grant immediate U.S. resident status to Charlie and his parents, allowing them to come to the United States for treatment. The congressmen argued in a statement released Friday:
Our bill will support Charlie's parents' right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.
Should this little boy to be ordered to die -- because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?
Every human life has dignity, including the lives of those who cannot speak up for themselves. When government is able to overrule a parent or guardian in determining a patient’s best interest, every vulnerable patient is put at risk. We offer Connie Yates and Chris Gard our heartfelt support as they seek to care for their son.
Charlie was scheduled to be taken off life support last Friday, but was ultimately granted more time following a heartbreaking video appeal from his parents.