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For the Love of Charlie Gard

For the Love of Charlie Gard

By William McGurn, Wall Street Journal

So Charlie Gard’s fate now comes down to this: whether an American doctor can persuade a British judge that little Charlie’s life is worth living.

The child cannot see, cannot hear, and suffers from a genetic disorder for which there is no cure—yet he has exposed the great fault line between the post-Christian West and its past. For most of history, men and women have regarded suffering as part of life. But as medicine tames once-deadly afflictions and the idea of some larger meaning to the cosmos wanes, suffering comes to appear less a part of the natural order than an intolerable anomaly.

Follow this logic to the end and you will arrive at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The hospital dates to 1852, when it was founded by a doctor hoping to relieve “the shockingly high level of infant mortality.” How curious that this same hospital now argues for infant mortality, or at least for the mortality of one particular infant.

Hospital experts say it’s in Charlie’s “best interests” that he be denied the experimental treatments because he “has no quality of life.” Better for him to die, they say, than risk suffering. Never mind the judge’s original admission that “no one can be certain whether or not Charlie feels pain.” 

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