The parents of the late Charlie Gard have again called for a “Charlie’s Law” to strengthen parents’ role in choosing medical treatment for a child.
In 2017, Chris Gard and Connie Yates tried to seek experimental treatment for their baby son, who was suffering from a rare genetic disorder. But Great Ormond Street Hospital refused to let Charlie out of the hospital, saying further attempts at treatment were not in his best interests. The parents lost a series of legal challenges.
The current law asks a court to judge whether further medical care would be in a child’s “best interests”, a principle which was applied in the similar case of Alfie Evans earlier this year.
Under “Charlie’s Law”, a proposal which has been drawn up in consultation with doctors, lawyers, bioethicists and politicians, the law would give more respect to parents’ wishes.
If a hospital wanted to prevent parents from seeking further care, the hospital would have to show that “significant harm” could result.
The proposal, which was first floated in April, has received support from two Oxford bioethics professors, who said that there were “strong ethical arguments” for a “significant harm” test.
According to the BBC, Gard and Yates hope that an MP will take up the cause of “Charlie’s Law” by sponsoring a private member’s bill.
They also propose that parents and medical authorities should be given easier access to mediation – a reform which could help both parties to reach an agreement before cases come to court.
Great Ormond Street Hospital did not offer mediation until the final days of Charlie’s life – nine months, according to Gard and Yates, after the parents first suggested it.
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