Law & the Courts

The Corner

Charlie Gard Lawyer’s Ideological Conflict of Interest

Advocates for letting Charlie Gard’s parents decide when and if to remove life support — and to allow Charlie to receive a last-ditch effort experimental treatment — are crying foul at the named-barrister appointed by the court to represent the guardian, and hence, his interests in the case.

The attorney’s name is Victoria Butler Cole. So who is Ms. Cole? She is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Compassion in Dying.

CiD does not directly promote assisted suicide. But CiD’s proclaimed “sister organization,” Dignity in Dying, most certainly does.  

This is highly problematic. A court-appointed attorney for Charlie should be someone who understands end-of-life issues, but also, is an advocate who is clearly identified as independent and unbiased. 

Ms. Cole’s close association as the chairman of the board of a group closely affiliated with a hard-line assisted suicide advocacy organization does not pass that test. 

At the very least, her appointment would seem to create the appearance of a conflict of ideological interest and renders her continuing advocacy for the immediate cessation of all life support — to put it tactfully — unsurprising.  

Update: This post has been corrected to note that Cole technically represents the guardian, appointed to represent Charlie’s interests. I regret the factual misstatement. But the point of the post remains unchanged.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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