By Grazie Pozo Christie

An attentive world is watching, aghast, at the troubling tug-of-war over a terminally ill baby boy in a London hospital. On one side are the distraught and devoted parents who want to shoulder the cost of a treatment that reportedly has little chance of success. On the other side is a medical and state bureaucracy that is insisting, instead, on turning off the baby’s ventilator and allowing him to die.

The case of Charlie Gard is creating anxiety for spectators everywhere as they observe the locus of control over difficult end-of-life decisions pass from the intimate family and doctor unit to an impersonal and distant state.

In watching Charlie’s case we learn that with government-run or socialized medicine, not only can the state refuse to provide life-extending care, it can deny us the freedom to pay for it ourselves, to leave the country seeking an alternative treatment and even to go home to die.

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