You might have recently heard in the news about a boy named Charlie Gard. He’s a 10-month old baby boy who was born in the England with an incredibly rare condition called mitochontdrial DNA depletion syndrome. His hope for life is slim, but there’s an experimental treatment available in the USA that could make it possible for him to live. Unfortunately, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that he is to be taken off of life support by July 10, making it unlikely that Charlie will be able to receive the treatment that could possibly save his life.

His case has generated a lot of disagreement over the dignity of human life at all stages, and for me personally and many others, a lot of heartbreak at the lack of respect for the dignity of his life. So, while the facts of this case and our Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life could serve this issue well, I decided to write a letter to the one person that matters the most in all of this: Charlie. Charlie isn’t case to be made, an issue to be resolved, or a lesson to teach — he’s a person with a life that matters. And it’s our duty to do everything that we can to protect that.

Dear Charlie,

I hope and pray that you’re still alive by the time this blog is published, but you’re going up against a lot of tough odds. You’re a 10-month old sweet little baby boy, suffering from a rare genetic disorder that is making it really difficult for you to stay alive apart from life support.

There is a glimmer of hope with some experimental treatment, but because you’re so little and you aren’t big enough to speak for yourself yet, there are a lot of people who are making some pretty big decisions for you, including the decision to let you live long enough to receive that treatment.

But if you ever get big enough to read this, and it’s my earnest prayer that you do, I want you to know these things:

Your right to life matters more than the decision makers’ voices
Right now, there are a lot of voices — your parents, doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, even the pope — who are talking about how to best care for you. I like to think that each of these voices has the best of intentions. Tragically, though, not all of them are fighting for you, not all of them are doing everything reasonably possible to keep you alive.

The fact of the matter, though, is that your life’s value cannot be determined by any one of these voices, because your life’s value doesn’t exist on any sort of value scale. You’re a human being and, from the moment of your conception, your life mattered. This is because your life is desired by the Father and, therefore, is of infinite worth.

Your life is infinitely valuable
You were intentionally created by the God of infinite love and He holds you in existence so that you can participate in His divine life — and yes, He can even use modern medicine as a means of holding you in existence; that’s why He created smart scientists and doctors who could come up with means to miraculously heal you (including this experimental treatment that you may be able to receive).

If there’s any possible chance that this treatment could save you, then it’s absolutely worth whatever it takes for you to receive that treatment: “those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible” (CCC 2276).

Your worth isn’t based on what you can contribute to society, how expensive your medical bills might be down the road, or your ability to defend your own life. Your worth is based on the Father’s love for you.

From the moment He breathed life into you, you mattered infinitely to Him. He wants you to exist because He loves you and He wants to give Himself to you. He doesn’t need you to exist for any sort of purpose or use — He purely wants you to exist so that you can know the goodness of the gift of life lived with Him.

Your life is worth fighting for
Because your life is desired by God and, therefore, infinitely valuable, your life is worth fighting for; your life is worth protecting, and your life is worth doing whatever is reasonably possible to defend. Like I said, modern science and medicine is incredible and could possibly provide the means for giving you a longer and healthier life. If that’s still a possibility, it’s worth fighting for.

I know there are a lot of people speaking for you right now and I’m praying that their hearts are convicted of this truth: you are a human being and because of that fact, and that fact alone, you deserve every possible chance at life that’s left.

My Catholic faith in the God of infinite love has informed me that “an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator” (CCC 2277) — and you, Charlie, are due the respect of a fair chance at life.

I’m praying for you. I’m praying for your parents. I’m praying for all the voices involved in your precious future. You are known by the Father, you are loved by the Father, and your life is valued infinitely by the Father. For that reason, you deserve every shot that you’ve got left.


About the Author

Leah Murphy

As a graduate of John Paul the Great Catholic University, with a background in video and a passion for that wild place where faith and culture meet, she lives to tell God's love story to the world, in the digital space. Dwelling in California, she spends all her free time doing all the things with her friends, enjoying the best music out there, and going on every adventure that comes her way.

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