We reported last week on the case of little Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old in the UK who suffers from a rare genetic condition (mitochondrial depletion syndrome). The British High Court and the European Court of Human Rights have ordered that Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, may not seek experimental treatment for the boy in the U.S. at their own expense.
Instead, they have been ordered to accept the decision of a British hospital that Charlie must “die with dignity.”
On Friday, the parents said Charlie’s life support was to be turned off that day, and that they had been given the chance to say their last goodbyes.
As of now, there is no report that the baby boy has actually died yet. In fact, it is probable that he hasn’t — because President Trump tweeted today (Monday, 3 July) that he is offering help to Charlie.
If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2017
According to The Hill, Trump officials have spoken to the Gard family:
White House director of media affairs Helen Ferre said members of the administration had spoken to the Gard family in calls set up by the British government.
“The president is just trying to be helpful if at all possible,” Ferre said, adding that Trump had not spoken directly with the family and does not want to pressure them in any way.
The Hill article, like most of those in the mainstream media, focuses on what it couches as a government procedural controversy.
Gard’s case has created an international uproar and sparked debate over whether the government should be able to mandate “death with dignity” over a family’s wishes to seek out experimental medication for their sick child.
The article cites “conservative” indignation over the original statement from the Vatican on Charlie’s case (which we noted here):
The Vatican has weighed in, saying that “we must do what advances the health of the patient, but we must also accept the limits of medicine” and “avoid aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family.”
“Likewise, the wishes of parents must be heard and respected, but they too must be helped to understand the unique difficulty of their situation and not be left to face their painful decisions alone,” Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia wrote. …
That statement infuriated conservatives, who are questioning why the Vatican did not prioritize the life of the child over the decision of the state.
It is sad indeed to see the media reporting as if there might be merit in the argument that the state can order blameless people to die, because of hopelessness expressed by the medical profession. The Pope, for his part, came out after the original Vatican statement and expressed different sentiments:
Pope Francis on Sunday weighed in, saying the parents should be allowed to “accompany and treat their child until the end.”
“The Holy Father is following with affection and emotion the situation of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents,” a spokesman for the pope said. “He is praying for them, in the hope that their desire to accompany and care for their own child until the end will be respected.”
But in a twist that probably seems strange to many, after a week of ugly Twitter exchanges with the media, Donald Trump is the one who addressed the situation with simple grace. “What can we do to help?”
It takes a seared, cynical heart to assume that this is just a stunt. There is a vast chasm between the mindset of those who live in hope, even when circumstances look grim, and those who insist that nothing will ever breach the boundaries that they, personally, understand. Trump’s simple offer of help illuminates that chasm. An offer of help is an expression of hope, and Trump doesn’t lay out arguments in this regard; he merely assumes the hope — and offers the help.
Did he think that out? Did he have to? I don’t know. But this is why so many Americans continue to support him — some in spite of his inexcusably crass, even vicious language and Twitter wars.
America is all about hope. We don’t know if any help is still possible for Charlie Gard. But we know in our spirits that men and women were not meant to be ruled by a regime of hopelessness. We know that that is exactly what state-mandated medical outcomes are: a regime of hopelessness. And for many Americans, Trump has just made clear that he understands that.
He has hope for Charlie Gard, and he isn’t embarrassed to let that show. He thinks it’s more important to let it show than to align himself with progressive statism, and try to make its special pleading for hopelessness sound like what the smart kids think.
He’s a kind of American in which many of his countrymen see themselves. And Trump’s faults aside, these are Americans we must fervently hope and pray to never lose from among us.