Terminally ill baby Charlie Gard will be allowed to die after his parents lost their final legal bid to take him to the USA for specialist treatment. His father Chris Gard and mother Connie Yates had taken their fight to the European Court of Human Rights after exhausting all legal options in the UK, but Strasbourg judges on Tuesday refused to intervene.
Ten-month-old Charlie suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage. He is being cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where specialists believe life support treatment should stop. They say therapy proposed by a doctor in the US is experimental and would not help. A spokesman for the hospital said the European court decision marked “the end” of a “difficult process”. She said there would be “no rush” to change Charlie’s care and said future plans would “involve careful planning and discussion”.
Mr Gard and Ms Yates, who are in their 30s and come from Bedfont in west London, had asked European court judges in Strasbourg, France, to consider their claims after losing battles in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London. But European judges agreed that undergoing experimental treatment would “continue to cause Charlie significant harm” and said their decision was “final”. A spokeswoman said in the statement that European judges had “endorsed in substance” the approach of UK judges. The court said it was now appropriate to lift the “interim measure” which meant doctors had to keep providing life support treatment to the baby.
A Great Ormond Street spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with Charlie’s parents on receipt of this news that we know will be very distressing for them.” “Today’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie’s parents as we prepare for the next steps.” She added: “There will be no rush by Great Ormond Street Hospital to change Charlie’s care and any future treatment plans will involve careful planning and discussion.”
Charlie’s parents were unavailable for comment. Their lawyers had argued that the couple’s human rights and Charlie’s human rights were being undermined. They said the couple’s right to respect for family life was being infringed and Charlie’s right to life and liberty violated.
Charlie’s parents made their last appeal to keep their baby alive published on a video yesterday.