A government-appointed lawyer who represents infant Charlie Gard in court heads a euthanasia group, and Charlie’s parents are understandably upset.
The Daily Record reports Victoria Butler-Cole is Charlie’s court-appointed lawyer and the chair of Compassion in Dying, a euthanasia advocacy group. She represents Charlie through the publicly funded Carfcass Guardian program.
The 11-month-old British infant suffers from a rare mitochondrial disease, and his parents want to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment. They raised more than $1 million for his care, and said they want to give Charlie every chance at life.
Hi parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, said they know the chance of the experimental treatment working is slim, but they want to try anyway for Charlie’s sake.
But so far, the courts and hospital have refused to allow them to transfer their son to another hospital for the treatment. Three weeks ago, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the hospital can remove Charlie’s life support and allow him to die. However, the hospital recently agreed to consider new evidence involving Charlie’s condition before taking him off the ventilator.
Butler-Cole’s euthanasia work is at the heart of Charlie’s case. The idea that some lives are not worth living or fighting for, that some people are better off dead is what euthanasia promotes.
Her group is a sister organization of Dignity in Dying, formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, according to the report. Both organizations share the same chief executive, trustees and media team.
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Charlie’s parents reportedly became angry when they learned about Butler-Cole’s euthanasia work.
“The family find it astonishing that the quango that appointed the barrister to act in the interests of Charlie Gard is the chairman of Compassion in Dying, the sister body of Dignity in Dying, formerly known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. The implication is obvious. It looks like a profound conflict of interest,” a source close to the family told the Telegraph.
A spokesperson for the euthanasia group claimed there is no conflict of interest.
According to a statement on Great Ormond Street Hospital’s website: “Throughout this court process, Charlie has been represented by his Cafcass Guardian who has visited him in hospital, spoken to Charlie’s parents, nurses and doctors and written reports that ensure that as much as is possible for a desperately unwell baby, Charlie’s own viewpoint is articulated and given weight. When asked what happens to the role of the Guardian if their belief that only they have the right to decide on Charlie’s treatment is correct, Charlie’s parents answer that he does not need a Guardian because they will speak for him.”
The hospital has argued that Charlie Gard’s “existence offers him no benefit,” and it is “inhuman” for him to be kept alive.
Despite all of his problems, Charlie’s parents – and millions like them – believe that Charlie is a valuable human being who should be given a chance to live.
“They wish to exhaust all possible options,” said Richard Gordon, a lawyer for Charlie and his parents. “They don’t want to look back and think ‘what if?’. This court should not stand in the way of their only remaining hope.”
Yates told told Good Morning Britain last week, “I’ve heard from doctors that there’s around a 10% chance of this working for Charlie so I think that’s a good enough chance to take.”
She said she does not want her son to suffer. She said it has been “absolute living hell” to wait and wonder when the hospital might end his life support.
“He’s our own flesh and blood and we don’t even have a say in his life whatsoever,” Yates said. “We are not bad parents, we are there for him all the time, we are completely devoted to him and he’s not in pain and suffering, and I promise everyone I would not sit there and watch my son in pain and suffering, I couldn’t do it.”