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The Grim Lessons of Charlie Gard

Walter Russell Mead

A U.K. death panel has forced parents to abandon hope for their baby’s life. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The parents of Charlie Gard abandoned their legal fight to take the terminally ill 11-month-old abroad for experimental therapy, ending a challenge to British doctors who want to switch off his ventilator and give him end-of-life care.

Saying they were prepared to spend their “last precious moments” with their son, Chris Gard and Connie Yates told the U.K. High Court on Monday that it was too late for a possible treatment because his muscles were irreversibly damaged by the advance of his rare mitochondrial disorder.

Conscience is a flexible thing, so the authorities who blocked a desperate parental bid to risk an untested therapy that just might have helped their child are presumably sleeping soundly with no bad dreams.

But it was a wicked abuse of the state’s coercive power to prevent the parents from trying their best for their child, and it should strengthen the determination of everyone who cares about human liberty to fight the inexorable, gratuitous growth of states that fail at the most basic jobs (like educating children in public schools) but who endlessly seek to expand their ‘competencies’ into new and more challenging fields.

We need states that stick to their knitting: that perform a few core functions efficiently and well, rather than the current set up of slovenly, meddlesome government that fails at basic tasks (like keeping the drinking water safe in Flint) while interfering mindlessly in the most intimate dramas of family life.

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