CENSORSHIP OR FREE CHOICE?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 19, 2017) — Just after 10:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, an advocate for the parents of 11-month-old hospitalized British child Charlie Gard, tweeted that the Facebook page belonging to Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, has been “taken down.”
Mahoney did not elaborate as to who might have removed the page or for what reason, although he said that an update would be provided “soon,” referencing the Twitter hashtag “#IAmCharlieGard.”
From the verb tense Mahoney employed, it was implied that Ms. Yates did not voluntarily close her page.
A Christian minister, Mahoney was an outspoken advocate for Connecticut teenager Justina Pelletier when she was held by Boston Children’s Hospital between 2013 and 2014 by an order from the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF) after doctors there assessed her diagnosis as different from that which her specialists at Tufts Medical Center had determined.
As Charlie’s illness and current circumstances have made international headlines over the last several weeks, many have come to agree with Charlie’s parents that he is being held against their wishes by the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), a children’s hospital in London currently providing life support to the child, who was months ago diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disorder believed to be terminal.
The case has highlighted the controversy between the hospital’s position that they are upholding Charlie’s right to “die with dignity” and avoid additional suffering and the parents’ assertion that their child’s care should be their decision alone.
Since January, the couple has raised approximately $1.7 million USD in the hope of taking him to the United States, where an experimental treatment is available.
At a court hearing on Friday, Judge Nicholas Francis, in whose hands Charlie’s fate appears to rest, ruled that a U.S. physician, Dr. Michio Hirano, could examine Charlie and confer with his British medical team about his condition.
On Monday, Hirano traveled to London and immediately went to assess Charlie’s condition, for which Yates expressed her thanks. Whether or not Hirano’s treatment plan, proposed last week via video link from New York, is ultimately permitted to be administered to Charlie by the court has not yet been announced.
The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that Yates and her husband, Chris Gard, do not believe Charlie is blind as his doctors claim. Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Congress granted the family permanent residence status in the event that GOSH and Francis allow them to seek the desired treatment in the United States.
Of that development, the UK Standard wrote in its Wednesday evening edition, “Mr Justice Francis, the High Court judge who has been hearing appeals by Charlie’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard for him to be offered an experimental therapy by a US doctor, has to be informed of any plans to move him from GOSH.”
A report by ABC News reveals that a child from Baltimore received a similar treatment from Hirano five years ago and made significant progress, although he still requires much specialized care.
As of press time, Mahoney has not provided further details as to why Yates’s Facebook page was removed.