WASHINGTON – In a gesture of solidarity with 11-month-old Charlie Gard, a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives just approved an amendment granting Charlie and his parents permanent residency in the United States.
Charlie suffers from a rare genetic mutation of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. He reportedly has brain damage, is blind and deaf, and needs a ventilator to breathe.
Britain’s High Court has ruled that Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, should take him off life support and let him die.
But his parents have raised more than $1.8 million to bring Charlie either to the U.S. or to Rome for treatment, and they are fighting the British government for permission even to take Charlie out of the country using their own money.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., tweeted July 19 that “We just passed amendment that grants permanent resident status to #CharlieGard and family so Charlie can get the medical treatment he needs.”
We just passed amendment that grants permanent resident status to #CharlieGard and family so Charlie can get the medical treatment he needs.
— Jeff Fortenberry (@JeffFortenberry) July 18, 2017
— Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) July 18, 2017
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who introduced the amendment, said in a statement Tuesday that “Parents have the most at stake when it comes to standing up for their children and right now, we have an incredible opportunity to stand with a family and save a child’s life.”
“This amendment would speed up the process, cut through the bureaucratic red tape, and ease the path for Charlie to be able to receive medical treatment in the U.S. that his parents and medical specialists believe is worth pursuing,” Herrera Beutler continued.
The amendment has not yet passed either in the House or the Senate. It has been added to a bill that, according to CNN, would fund Trump’s border wall and other increased immigration enforcement measures, making it likely that this bill will not be passed for some time.
In addition, according to legal sources at the Daily Mail, “Charlie is the subject of a High Court order and it made no difference what passport he held.”
They consider it unlikely that Charlie would be allowed to leave the country even if this amendment were approved by both branches of Congress.
Nevertheless, this is a positive gesture of solidarity by U.S. lawmakers. Republican lawmakers have shown signs that they will do all they can to help Charlie over the past two weeks, including Reps. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and Trent Franks, R-Ariz.
Although this amendment might not yet have legal bearing, it might have some influence over the minds of those deciding whether Charlie lives or dies. The increased attention Charlie’s battle has attracted in the U.S. may have already been a factor in getting Charlie the help that he needs.
March for Life president Jeanne Mancini, when discussing the heightened attention drawn through social media, told WND that “I think that’s been very powerful, and I think that that’s been the difference, drawing some attention to this and then the court of course reconsidering their options.”
Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, who is currently in London assisting the Gard family, agrees. “I remember the comfort my family received from the tremendous popular support we received from people all around the world,” he told WND.com.
An American doctor, Dr. Michio Hirano, has flown to London and is examining Charlie in preparation to administer preliminary treatment to see if there is any chance Charlie’s condition could improve.
Hirano is the medical director and professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. He is a specialist in treating Charlie’s rare mutation of mitochondrial depletion syndrome.
A day earlier, it was reported that Charlie’s parents are optimistic, following a brain scan on Charlie, his first since April.
Hirano and his colleague spent six hours with Charlie on Monday, familiarizing themselves with the details of his case and examining the child personally. Hirano has given Charlie up to a 56 percent chance of “meaningful improvement” following his experimental therapy.
The results of Charlie’s brain scan will contribute to an assessment of whether or not any brain damage has occurred.
And Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, revealed that two companies had offered to cover the travel expenses to have Charlie moved to New York.
“These two incredible offers to cover all travel expenses for Charlie Gard are just another example of the world wide support that he and his family have. Millions are hoping and praying that the British courts will allow Charlie to travel to New York City to seek care that could greatly improve his life,” he said.
Schiavo died in 2005 after a court ordered removal of her feeding tube and water at the request of her husband. Since then, Schindler has devoted himself to defending medically vulnerable people.
Schindler believes Charlie’s struggle is vitally important in the larger struggle of parental rights against encroaching government influence in end-of-life decisions.
“I think it’s obvious to any normal observer of the news surrounding Charlie that this is a simple case of fit and competent parents being denied the right to care for their son, and an aggressive medical and legal system intent on imposing its will rather than empowering the weak and vulnerable – in this case, Charlie and his parents,” he said.
“Once these types of decisions are enshrined into its precedent – the notion, as we are seeing in Charlie’s case, that parents are not fit to determine how best to care for their son – people realize that the same thing could happen to them, and that it has literally been stated that it’s in Charlie’s best interest to die.”
WND reported earlier this year on the 12th anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo. The media and her husband, Michael Schiavo, asserted Terri was in a “persistent vegetative state,” but her parents and brother, Bobby Schindler, insisted otherwise, claiming she was able to swallow, laugh and express love for her family.
In 1990, Terri, at age 26, collapsed in her St. Petersburg, Florida, home for a reason that still hasn’t been explained and was taken to a hospital by first responders who feared she was dead. She was comatose for a time, then started responding and was moved to a care center. Her family members say she was getting better before her court-ordered starvation.
WND has been reporting on the Terri Schiavo story since 2002. Read WND’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of her life-and-death fight, including more than 150 original stories and columns.