Federal Relations


July 25, 2017

We need to empower loving parents.

HSLDA to Trump: Don’t Let the Charlie Gard Tragedy Happen Here

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William Estrada, Esq. WILLIAM ESTRADA Director of Federal Relations

When courts and medical authorities in England can overrule parents’ wishes and declare it is in the best interest of a child to let him die, it’s time to redouble efforts to protect parental rights here in America.

That’s what Home School Legal Defense Association recently told President Donald Trump.

HSLDA wrote a letter to President Trump, respectfully urging him to withdraw the United States from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

As the sad and alarming case of 11-month-old Charlie Gard illustrates, the timing of our request could not be more critical.

A Heartbreaking Struggle

Charlie was born with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition which affects neurological and muscular development. He has been receiving treatment at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital since October.

The British courts have decided that Charlie should be removed from life support. Charlie’s parents had hoped to bring their son to the U.S. for an experimental treatment, but doctors disagreed, arguing that continuing his medical care would just prolong his pain and suffering.

Charlie’s loving parents took their case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights—trying to defend the life of their son, all to no avail.

Protecting Our Children

As we wrote in our letter, “we believe that life is precious and that parents, not the government, know best how to protect and care for their children.” The story of Charlie Gard and his parents “highlights the stark difference between our national values and those of internationalists who believe that government bureaucrats and the courts should decide how children should be raised and even whether a life is worth living.”

The CRC is an excellent example of this dichotomy. This treaty, which was signed by the Clinton administration but never ratified by the Senate, gives governments—rather than parents—the right to decide what is best for a child. And the courts in the United Kingdom relied on the CRC’s “best interest of the child” standards to override the wishes of Charlie Gard’s parents.

Our letter continued:

Under the Supremacy Clause found in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate become ‘the Supreme law of the land.’ We fear that if the U.S. Senate ever ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, it would only be a matter of time before cases like Charlie Gard’s in the United Kingdom became commonplace on our own shores.

That is why HSLDA is urging President Trump to remove the United States as a signatory of the CRC and fully withdraw our support from it. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that no stories like Charlie Gard’s will ever happen here. The United States has led the world in defending human rights, and we hope the president will see the CRC for what it is: a danger to our children, not a protection for them.

Brandt Edmonston and Andrew McNeill contributed to this report.