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Baby Charlie Gard

The national director of Priests for Life in New York welcomed a London court's decision allowing a U.S. doctor to go to England to examine a 10-month-old terminally ill British infant at the center of a medical and ethical debate.
 
The baby, Charlie Gard, was born with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness, brain damage and respiratory or liver failure; it is typically fatal.
 
The baby's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, lost their legal battle to keep Charlie on life support and to then take him home to die. They also were denied permission to take the baby to the United States for evaluation and possible treatment. The couple had raised $1.8 million through crowdfunding to cover the cost.
 
Doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital said transferring the baby to a U.S. hospital would prolong his suffering. On July 14, England's High Court ruled he could be examined by Dr. Michio Hirano of Columbia University.
 
"News that an American doctor with experience in treating Charlie's disease will travel to the U.K. to examine him is certainly welcome," Father Frank Pavone said.
 
News reports July 17 said Hirano, a neuorologist, had arrived in London and a second U.S. physician, who has not been identified, also will be allowed to examine the infant.
 
Hirano has treated other children suffering from the same extremely rare condition that Charlie has, and he has stated he thinks there's a 10 percent chance that Charlie's condition could improve.
 
"Ultimately, the decision about further treatment should be made by Charlie's parents in consultation with the doctors they choose, and not by any court," Father Pavone said in a statement.
 
"Where there's life, there's hope," the priest said, "and we will continue praying for Charlie and his parents."
 
Pope Francis called for respecting the wishes of a terminally ill child's parents to accompany and care for their child "until the end." A Vatican spokesman said July 2 that the pope has been following "with affection and emotion" the events concerning the baby.
 
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a July 6 statement that Charlie's parents "understand that the odds are against him, but like all great parents, they are not only willing but are anxious to take those odds and fight for the life of their child."
 
The parents "want to truly care for their child in the way only parents can. They love him in a way an institution -- a hospital and government -- cannot," Dannenfelser said.
 
She called it "dangerous utilitarianism" for Charlie's parents not being allowed to put their baby in the care of those who do not see such "parental love in action as an act of futility."
 
A petition urging the hospital to allow the baby to be taken to the United States was signed by more than 350,000 people.
 
  • Published in World

Reactions to American Health Care Act vote

The American Health Care Act that passed by a four-vote margin May 4 in the House has "major defects," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development.
 
"It is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who will be most severely impacted were not heeded," Bishop Dewane said in a May 4 statement. "The AHCA does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards. But still, vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act."
 
He added, "When the Senate takes up the AHCA, it must act decisively to remove the harmful proposals from the bill that will affect low-income people -- including immigrants -- as well as add vital conscience protections, or begin reform efforts anew. Our health care policy must honor all human life and dignity from conception to natural death, as well as defend the sincerely held moral and religious beliefs of those who have any role in the health care system."
 
One of 20 Republicans to vote against the bill was Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
 
"I voted no on the AHCA largely because it cuts Medicaid funding by $839 billion; undercuts essential health benefits such as maternity care, newborn care, hospitalization and pediatric services; includes 'per capita caps' and weakens coverage for pre-existing health conditions -- all of which will hurt disabled persons, especially and including children and adults with autism, the elderly and the working poor," Smith said in a May 4 statement.
 
Those opposing the bill cited reductions in coverage and cost increases. Those favoring the bill cited its pro-life provisions.
 
 "Today's House vote marks the beginning of the end of the shell game Planned Parenthood plays with public money. That the American Health Care Act limits Medicaid funds to entities that don't kill people is entirely appropriate, not to mention a step that's long overdue," said a May 4 statement by Father Frank Pavone, national president of Priests for Life.
 
"Abortion is not health care, and in light of that -- this bill provides Hyde (Amendment)-like protections and redirects funding away from America's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, to community health centers that offer comprehensive women's care, and already outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics by 20 to 1," said a May 4 statement by Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.
 
"Over 2 million Americans are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment. This new health care bill ensures that we are one step closer to getting the federal government entirely out of the business of subsidizing abortion," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, in a May 4 statement.
 
"Protecting Medicaid is a priority for the faith community. The 'fixes' made to the AHCA do nothing to change the fact that millions of low-income Americans will lose their health coverage," said a May 4 statement by the Rev. David Beckmann, a Lutheran minister who is president of Bread for the World, the anti-hunger lobby. "Medical bills often drive families, especially those who struggle to make ends meet, into hunger and poverty."
 
"We support efforts to strengthen and stabilize our nation's health care system and extend insurance coverage and protections," said Arthur C. Evans Jr., CEO of the American Psychological Association. "However, the American Health Care Act is not the answer. Accordingly, we call on the Senate to reject the bill due to its projected adverse impact on the well-being of our nation, particularly on individuals with mental health, behavioral and substance use disorders."
 
  • Published in Nation
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