Charlie Gard: US Lawmakers May Vote on Granting British Baby Permanent Resident Status for Treatment

U.S. lawmakers have made significant steps toward granting permanent residency status to terminally-ill 11-month-old British baby Charlie Gard, whose parents hope to take him to America for potentially life saving treatment.

Charlie Gard
A campaigner holds a banner to show support for allowing Charlie Gard to travel to the United Stated to receive further treatment, outside the High Court in London, Britain, July 10, 2017. |

U.S. lawmakers have made significant steps toward granting permanent residence status to terminally-ill 11-month-old British baby Charlie Gard, whose parents hope to take him to America for potentially life-saving treatment.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said in a message on Twitter Tuesday: "We just passed amendment that grants permanent resident status to #CharlieGard and family so Charlie can get the medical treatment he needs."

CNN reported on Wednesday that although the amendment passed unanimously in the House Committee on Appropriations, it still needs to be voted on by the full House and Senate.

The Hill reported Wednesday that "Reps. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, announced last week in a Fox News op-ed that they were proposing legislation to give Gard's parents lawful and permanent residence in the U.S. in order to obtain medical treatment for their son."

The baby's parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have been engaged in a court battle against London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is arguing that their son should be taken off life support as they believe he has no chance of survival, and further treatment could increase his suffering.

Gard's parents have insisted, however, that despite his condition, called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage, there is still hope that experimental treatment could save him, and have vowed to continue fighting.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., whose daughter was born with a rare and usually fatal disease but survived after treatment, noted that Gard's parents have raised at least $1.8 million to come to the U.S. so that their son can receive treatment.

"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," Beutler said in a statement.

"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."

Justice Francis, who previously ruled in favor of the hospital, is presiding over the case which will determine if and how long the parents can keep their son alive in order to seek new forms of treatment.

The 11-month-old baby was examined earlier this week by Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York, the Telegraph reported.

Hirano has said that there is a small chance that an experimental drug could potentially save Gard's life, though further international experts are also examining the baby's chances.

Gard's case has made headline news around the world, with both Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump offering their support to the parents.

Gard's parents meanwhile said that they were shocked to learn that the attorney appointed to represent them in court is affiliated with a "Death with Dignity" organization.

Lawyer Victoria Butler Cole, who was named for them by the publicly-funded British government body Cafcass, chairs the Board of Trustees for the charity Compassion in Dying, a sister organization to Dignity in Dying, which promotes assisted suicide.

"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 implication is obvious. It looks like a profound conflict of interest," a source close to the Gard family told the Telegraph on Monday.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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