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Charlie Gard tragedy a cautionary tale on single-payer healthcare

Written By | Jul 25, 2017

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2017 – After the failures of a Republican-led Senate to repeal and replace Obamacare, a single-payer system not only looks more and more inevitable, but it is something that many Americans think is desirable.

However, this desire to have government bureaucracies choose not only what care is given, but whether it should be given is a chilling concept. The Charlie Gard tragedy is a clear illustration of government “healthcare” run amuck. The British government represented by the National Health Service (NHS) not only refused to treat this sick infant but essentially blocked the parent from seeking outside help and treatment, effectively running out the clock until it was too late for any treatment to be effective.

On Monday, Charlie Gard’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard ended their battle with the British government over getting their infant son experimental treatment outside of England. Even after inroads from the United States Congress to grant Charlie Gard legal residency in order for him to receive this treatment, on Friday, British high court Justice Francis said their son could not be moved to the United States for treatment without a court order, squashing their hopes.

The parents released a statement today saying they would no longer legally fight to save their son because too much time had passed for an experimental treatment to be helpful. They laid the blame squarely on London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for blocking their ability allow them to pursue options that, albeit slim, could have improved Charlie’s quality of life. Because of the hospital’s legal blocking and delay tactics, Charlie is now outside the window for the experimental treatment to have any effectiveness.

Because of the hospital’s legal delay tactics, Charlie is now outside the window for the experimental treatment to have any effectiveness.

The viability of life is often a matter of inches rather than degrees, and quick action is required in order to either sustain or improve the quality of life. This is why cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is so critical. Imagine a top-down bureaucratized system in place deciding whether someone should receive CPR or not?

Imagine a top-down bureaucratized system in place deciding whether someone should receive CPR or not?

Dr. Ted Noel wrote in the American Thinker last week,

“What would have happened in the U.S.?  When there is no reasonable probability of returning a critically ill patient to meaningful life, the situation is to be presented to the patient’s health care surrogate.  This ‘Legally Authorized Person’ is encouraged to recognize that further care is futile and should not be undertaken.  With the LAP’s consent, it would become possible to withdraw futile care.

“It is critically important to note that the LAP (typically close family) has the authority to tell the medical staff to continue care or not.  It is not up to the doctors or the hospital.  It does not matter that continuing futile care burns out staff and consumes resources.  The family is the final authority because the family members are the ones who own all rights in this situation.  It would be unethical to proceed without their consent, because they are protecting the patient’s natural human rights, even if they conflict with the medical prognosis.

Contrast Charlie Gard’s heart-rending story with that of Jaxon Buell, a baby in November 2014, from Tavernas, Fla. born with the rare condition Microhydranencephaly, where part of the skull and the brain are missing. Of the 4,859 U.S. cases of these births, most babies die soon after birth.

Ironically, Jaxon’s parents Brittany and Brandon Buell were given the option to abort but told the U.K. Mail Online that it wasn’t their decision to make. Brandon said, “Who are we to decide? We were given a child, we are given a chance and we have to be his voice.”

Jaxon received the same attention, concern, and compassion that Charlie Gard received, and outside monies were raised through a GoFundMe page to pay for his ongoing medical care, the same as in Charlie Gard’s case. Jaxon has since reached his second birthday and is thriving, despite doctors predictions that he would not survive the pregnancy.

Connie Yates and Chris Gard had that same desire and passion for being a voice for their child, but because the decision on what was best for Charlie had been removed from their hands and given over to a single-payer healthcare system, a system designed to deny any treatment despite the protestations of the parents and attempted intervention from other medical experts, Charlie Gard’s life will end prematurely.

We will never know if he could have had a chance to survive and thrive as Jaxon Buell has because a government enterprise denied him of this right.

If the Left and those too ill-informed to see the consequences of this slippery slope get their wish, the type of nightmare situation that Charlie Gard’s parents found themselves will become standard operating procedure in the U.S., just as it is in the U.K.

No longer will parents or those committed to a patient’s care have the final say, but a system geared toward the financial bottom line, rather than human life. It is less about “first do no harm”, and more about, “we pay for your care, so we decide if you are a life worth the medical and financial investment.”

When we have nameless, faceless committees rather than loving family members making the choice on whether a life is viable, as opposed to what is cost effective, Life will always be on the losing end of the spectrum.

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Jennifer Oliver OConnell

Jennifer Oliver OConnell offers witty, insightful, and direct opinion, analysis and musings on local and national politics and popular culture, with occasional detours into reinvention, food, and Yoga. Jennifer also teaches Yoga, and coaches clients on careers and reinvention. You can keep up with what's in Jennifer's orbit through her As the Girl Turns website.