Guest Contributor Jeff
With today’s announcement by the parents of Charlie Gard, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, that they were ending their fight with the Government of Britain and its state-run hospital, the outcome of the 11-month-old is a certain one: Death. While many will claim that this was going to be the end result, and it may have been, the right to do whatever one can do to save one’s child should always be the first choice. The problem comes with the mentality that children are throwaway ‘things,’ whether in utero or, as this case demonstrates, unable to survive without support. The debate over the healthcare system in the United States is still at a fevered pitch, sides defending ACA or rallying against it, bickering over a replacement bill offered by the ‘other’ side, or whether to repeal it and let it go to a purer free market. While, for me, it is easy to decide which way to go with Healthcare, the small arguments that crop up often touch on the larger prevailing issue: What is the value of a Human?
We see this debate more and more: is it a baby? Is it a fetus? Is it just a clump of cells? Then later in life, it becomes: Do they contribute to society? Is it worth the money to save them? All as if life has been devalued to the small pieces of copper you have hidden behind your couch cushions. Payment becomes more important than figuring out if a clump of cells is worth living. “You can always just have another child” is a phrase that gets bantered about frequently. Not just in European societies, but in our own. From the mouths of individuals marching in Washington wearing little pink hats, to those in the medical profession, yes even those that are OB/GYN. Sadly, this is not something new, just something being bantered about more and more as social media has given a larger voice to these individuals.
Before this increase in volume, it was shocking to hear in most corners. When I heard those words coming from an OB/GYN about my twins, I was shocked and horrified. While I was largely on the side of a ‘clump of cells’ was a human being and nothing else, I was not public with it and sometimes would defend the other side. Eleven years ago changed that. When, in America, you hear a doctor state “You should abort these twins due to their condition and try again,” you want to scream, fight, and just get angry in general. For the record, the twins had TTTS, or Twin-to-Twin Syndrome, where the two babies share in utero blood vessels. One baby was being drained of blood while the other was getting his normal amount and his brother’s blood as well. In our case, the odds of one of the twins surviving was about 50-50. This doctor figured why go through the trouble of multiple amniocentesis procedures, possible surgery, and tons of ‘inconvenience’ because we lived in a rural area and would have to travel to seek help.
To us, it was a no-brainer, our sons deserved everything we could do for them. Thankfully we lived in a still free society where we were able to find ways to help. Five doctors in the United States specialized in TTTS cases. We, unlike Mr. Gard and Ms. Yates, were able to travel to another state and seek options. In our case, a procedure was done to sever the shared blood vessels between the two babies at week 20. The surgery was a success, though we would go on to lose the twins, Julian and Tristian, five weeks later after contractions started that could not be stopped.
Though the twins passed, eight and 43 hours after their birth at week 25, we were able to seek treatment and attempt to save their lives, an option Charlie’s parents never got. For those saying this will not happen in America, they may be right, institutionally it may not, but there are already enough individuals that have devalued a baby’s life because it is not outside of the mother, and it is not a new thing.
So the case of Charlie vs. the Hospital, as it should have been stated, is something that will be seen more and more as the spread of government intervention takes hold. Cases of infants being allowed to die due to financial issues, or “The parents are healthy, just have another one” will increase. Slowly, though I fear not so, this will envelop older patients, or patients that are in a coma with no foreseeable escape from it. The devaluing of life has hit a feverish pitch, and frankly, it scares me.