As the saga surrounding Charlie Gard, a terminally ill British baby at the center of a legal battle between his parents and a hospital where doctors recently ordered that he be taken off life support, forges on, U.S. lawmakers are working to grant the child and his parents permanent resident status.
It’s a move that — if passed — could enable his parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, to bring the child to the U.S. for the experimental treatment that they believe could save his life.
The legislative effort is being spearheaded by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), who, as Faithwire previously reported, has seen her own daughter receive a medical miracle despite doctors’ dire prognoses.
Beutler stunned many when she announced in June 2013 that she and her husband were “praying for a miracle” after doctors diagnosed her unborn baby with Potter’s Syndrome, a fatal disorder.
— JaimeHerreraBeutler (@HerreraBeutler) July 19, 2017
But Despite reportedly being advised to consider an abortion, Beutler forged on with her pregnancy and delivered Abigail Rose Beutler on July 15, 2013, a baby who media outlets said at the time was likely the first child to survive Potter’s Syndrome.
With that stunning development in mind, Beutler is now setting out to try and help Charlie and his family as well, releasing a statement this week that explains her amendment’s intent.
“Parents have the most at stake when it comes to standing up for their children and right now, we have an incredible opportunity to stand with a family and save a child’s life,” Beutler said in a statement. “This amendment would speed up the process, cut through the bureaucratic red tape, and ease the path for Charlie to be able to receive medical treatment in the U.S.”
Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican representative from Nebraska, also tweeted about the measure on Tuesday evening, writing, “We just passed amendment that grants permanent resident status to #CharlieGard and family so Charlie can get the medical treatment he needs.”
We just passed amendment that grants permanent resident status to #CharlieGard and family so Charlie can get the medical treatment he needs.
— Jeff Fortenberry (@JeffFortenberry) July 18, 2017
And Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas also commented on the measure, sharing text of the amendment that shows that both Charlie and his parents are eligible to come to the U.S., if they so choose.
“If Christopher William Gard, Constance Rhoda Keely Yates or Charles Matthew William Gard enters the United States before the filing deadline specified … he or she shall be considered to have entered and remained lawfully and shall, if otherwise eligible, be elifible for adjustment of status,” the text reads, in part.
The House Committee on Appropriations unanimously voted in favor of the amendment on Tuesday, but it would still need to go before the House and Senate to become law, as CNN reported.
— Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) July 18, 2017
The move to offer permanent residency comes after a July 11 op-ed in which Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) pledged to introduce legislation that would allow Gard and his parents to take refuge in the U.S.
“It would be one thing for the courts and hospital to say they can no longer be part of keeping Charlie alive and release him in this instance to his parents who love him more than anyone else on earth,” Franks wrote. “It is something far different to arrogantly refuse Charlie’s parents the right to try to save him. Charlie’s humanity, his mother and father’s parental rights, and the rights of all of the disabled are at stake in this small child’s case.”
The congressman said that he and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) would introduce legislation to grant Charlie and his parents permanent legal status in the U.S. So far, Beutler’s amendment seems to be the first official effort made in that direction.
The move comes as Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurology professor at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center, is in the U.K. this week meeting with Charlie’s doctors and parents.
The physicians currently caring for Charlie at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London say the baby can’t hear, see, swallow or breathe without life support and that it is time to remove him from a ventilator so that he can “die with dignity.”
But Hirano said the child could be a candidate to undergo further treatment, testifying that he doesn’t think keeping Charlie on life support will cause undue strain, as he doesn’t believe the child is in pain.
Hirano’s identity was previously ordered sealed by Judge Nicholas Francis, the justice presiding over the case, though that restriction was lifted on Thursday. The doctor has publicly said he believes experimental therapy is worth trying, testifying to that fact via video in court last week.
A break in the case could come soon, as Hirano is expected to report his findings to Francis, who will likely make a final decision on July 25 about whether Charlie can receive further treatment.