Politics & Policy

The Charlie Gard Story Exemplifies the Left’s War on Parents

Connie Yates and Chris Gard outside High Court in London. (Reuters photo: Peter Nicholls)
The state continues to encroach on parents’ control of their children.

On Monday, two very different videos went viral. The first featured an eleven-year-old boy, Tyler, from Conyers, Georgia. Tyler was 18 months old when his stepfather, Don Gause, entered his life. The video shows Tyler approaching his stepfather and reading a letter: “When I was one and a half years old, something happened to me: God sent me a real dad. . . . Dad, I have been your child in love since I can remember, but I want to be your son legally. Will you please adopt me?” Don says yes, at which point he embraces the crying boy in a bear hug.

It’s nearly impossible not to have the odd speck of dust in your eye while watching it.

Meanwhile, another heartrending video made the rounds. This was video of Chris Gard and Connie Yates, parents of infant Charlie Gard, announcing that they would no longer attempt to remove Charlie from the United Kingdom for treatment. Charlie suffers from a rare degenerative condition that ends in death; the Great Ormond Street Hospital refused to release him to his parents so that they could fly him to the United States to seek experimental treatment, instead deciding that little Charlie should “die with dignity.”

Chris stated, “We knew our son, which is why we continued fighting. Charlie has been left with his illness to deteriorate, devastatingly, to the point of no return.”

Juxtaposing these two videos is awkward for the political Left. It’s awkward because while the Left likes to claim that it stands with parents, it actually promulgates policies antithetical to parental control of their children. The Left will pay lip service to motherhood and apple pie, but if a mother gives her child too much apple pie, it will call on the state to do something about it.

That’s what happened with Charlie Gard. The question isn’t whether you agree with Gard’s parents or not — perhaps the doctors were right, and his parents were grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to ignore the agonizing reality of the situation. The question is whether parents have the right to make such decisions to begin with. We’re not talking about abusive parents who physically harm their children; we’re not talking about a child endangerment scenario. We’re talking about parents choosing a culture of life with which the prevailing leftist sentiment disagrees. There is no objective standard suggesting that so-called death with dignity should overcome the value of preservation of life; that’s a subjective decision at best. Yet the hospital, the U.K. government, and the European Union decided that they knew better than Charlie Gard’s parents.

They don’t. The judges who decided Charlie Gard’s fate have never met Charlie Gard. They never spent hours crying by his bedside or rubbing the fuzz on his head. Had Charlie been healthy, they wouldn’t have been aware of him at all. Yet they know better than Charlie’s parents what ought to happen.

The devaluation of parenting on the left isn’t restricted to life-and-death decisions. It reaches down to the basics of parenting: what value system should be taught to children. Last month, the British government threatened to shut down an Orthodox Jewish girls’ school for the crime of not teaching children the LGBT agenda: Inspectors said that failure to teach children about leftist views of sexual orientation “restricts pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and does not promote equality of opportunity in ways that take account of differing lifestyles.” This despite the fact that the inspectors acknowledged that the “school’s culture is . . . clearly focused on teaching pupils to respect everybody, regardless of beliefs and lifestyle.”

The devaluation of parenting on the left isn’t restricted to life-and-death decisions. It reaches down to the basics of parenting.

In Ontario, Canada, legislators recently passed a regulation that would allow the government to remove children from the home if parents refused to accept a child’s self-perception as transgender. Their excuse: Failure to do so might result in damage to the child. Instead, the government could take hold of the child, place them in the system, and then promote sex transition. Once again, this has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics.

The roots of this disdain for parenting lie in Rousseau and the romantics, who saw parents as a burden on childhood freedom and exploration. But the truth is far less sunny for children who lack parental guidance: They have higher rates of depression and suicide, higher rates of drug use, higher rates of involvement in crime. We need more Chris Gards and more Don Gauses, not more bureaucrats certain that they know what’s best for a child they’ve never met and don’t care about. The Left, however, seems determined to write parents out of the story of their own children’s upbringing. The state knows best how to care for your child, on everything from nutrition to sexual education to life itself. If that means death for a baby, so be it: At least the state’s view of the value of life has been promulgated.


Charlie Gard’s Parents, Not the State, Must Decide His Fate

The High Cost of Charlie Gard Coercion

The Court-Ordered Killing of Charlie Gard

Mr. Shapiro is the host of the podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, the editor emeritus of The Daily Wire, and the author of How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps and The Right Side of History.


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