On Charlie Gard: Ethics, Culture, and Religion

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The 2017 story of Charlie Gard is revisited. Upon the British High Court’s ruling in favor of the physicians that the infant should be allowed to die without the experimental treatment, the view of the public as well as the opinions of bioethicists and Catholic bishops are divided, interestingly along with a cultural line. American bioethicists and Catholic bishops tend to believe that the parents should have the final say while British/European bioethicists and Catholic bishops in general side with the court’s decision. The paper explores the place of culture in bioethical reasoning between the UK/Europe and the US while claiming that cultural differences are more important than geopolitical or religious differences to understand the bioethical positions of a group. In addition, the authors introduce a decision-making program for handicapped neonates which is developed by the American Jesuit Bioethicist, Richard McCormick, and modified further by the contemporary American Jesuit Bioethicist, Peter A. Clark, in an attempt to see if the program’s normatizing categories can contribute to the culture-laden ethical discussions on Charlie’s case. However, it is admitted that the McCormick-Clark device is borne out of the American and Catholic theological context.
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Archival date: 2019-01-05
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