It’s not Brexit, really, that Brits are talking about down at the pub. It’s the baby.
Because the life of one very sick infant is a common denominator, a horror that can strike any family. More morally confounding, at least in the moment, than the great befuddlement of disentangling from Europe and how much that’s going to cost.
Everybody wants what’s best for Charlie Gard. There’s far less agreement on what that might be for the terminally ill 11-month-old at the centre of a power struggle between medical authorities, the baby’s parents, a hospital of tremendous renown, a judge who’s expected to pronounce with the wisdom of Solomon and a platoon of lawyers.
Though Charlie’s mom and dad weren’t the only parties astonished to discover last week that the barrister who’s speaking for their little boy in front of the bench — appointed to the role by a publicly funded state body that acts in the best interests of children in court cases — is also chair of Compassion in Dying, a sister organization to Dignity in Dying, a charity that advocates to make assisted dying legal in the United Kingdom.
The conflict of interest is obvious and galling, though few involved in this long-running drama seem to appreciate that fact.
(As an aside, why do death activists always attach terms like “dignity” to their campaigns? As if death, however messy and agonizing, is ever undignified, except perhaps as a public execution. Even then, the indignity accrues to the state that embraces capital punishment.)
A private tragedy has turned into Grand Guignol theatre, sloshing beyond the walls of the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where Charlie is being “treated” — except there’s been no treatment beyond keeping the baby alive on a ventilator while Justice Nicholas Francis considers a last-chance appeal that might persuade the judge to reverse his April decision that life support should be switched off.