LONDON, England, July 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The government-appointed lawyer who supposedly speaks for Charlie Gard in court is the Chairman of Compassion in Dying, an "end-of-life" advocacy group with a sister organization that supports assisted suicide.
Victoria Butler-Cole is listed as Compassion in Dying's chairman on its websiteand in its financial documents. At the bottom of every page of Compassion in Dying's website, it links to its "sister organisation" Dignity in Dying (formerly called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society).
"Compassion in Dying supports people to use their existing rights within the law," it says. "We do not campaign for assisted dying, that is the focus of our sister organisation - Dignity in Dying."
Compassion in Dying and Dignity in Dying share the same CEO and many of the same staff members.
"Trustees – such as Mrs Butler-Cole – can only sit on one charity if they support the aims of the other," The Telegraph reported.
"We believe the right law for the UK is one that allows dying people, with six months or less to live the option to control their death," Dignity in Dying's website states. "Along with good care, dying people deserve the choice to control the timing and manner of their death...Dying people should have support to take the final act that brings about their peaceful death."
Charlie Gard's bioethics case has captured international attention. At issue is whether Charlie's parents or his hospital may decide his course of care. Great Ormond Street Hospital argues Charlie's ventilator should be pulled, and that they, not his parents, should make that decision. His parents have raised more than $1.5 million to transfer him to another hospital for experimental treatment. Because parental rights and life support for babies are at stake in this case, it's struck a nerve with parents around the world.
"Dying people are already ending their lives to avoid painful and undignified deaths. Many pay thousands of pounds to travel abroad to guarantee a safe and peaceful death. They do so to access a proven and safe way to control their death with medical supervision," Dignity in Dying says of assisted suicide. "Many cannot travel so risk a painful and gruesome death by ending their lives at home. Many more are suffering and dying without dignity because they have no choice. We believe dying people should have the means to control their death safely and comfortably at home."
"As a country we have a long and proud history of providing free and compassionate healthcare," it says. "Forcing people to travel abroad and pay thousands of pounds for a dignified death is cruel and wrong."
The CEO of both Compassion in Dying and Dignity in Dying is Sarah Wootton, who was "a founding trustee of Abortion Rights," according to her profiles on the websites of both charities.
"Sarah has also established and is chief executive of Dignity in Dying’s partner charity, Compassion in Dying, which informs and empowers people around their existing end-of-life rights through free Advance Decisions, an Information Line and now, a Big Lottery-funded advocacy project," according to Dignity in Dying.
Dignity in Dying touts that 58 million Americans have "access" to assisted suicide. "Why can't you?" it asks the English.
"I sat in court last week in the hearing and I was stunned to see her as Charlie’s ‘guardian’ arguing against the right of Charlie’s parents to be at any of the discussions this week concerning Charlie’s medical condition," Rev. Patrick Mahoney told LifeSiteNews. "It just was appalling" for Butler-Cole, supposed to argue on Charlie's behalf, to ask that his parents be excluded from key meetings.
"And now suddenly, it comes out that she’s the chair of this euthanasia organization. At the very best, it raises doubts about her impartiality on this issue," said Mahoney. "It’s stunning that it wasn’t disclosed before" and that Butler-Cole didn't recuse herself.
"At the very best, it raises doubts about her impartiality on this issue," he said. "At the very worst, it shows that her own personal bias has entered into this case. Either way, she has not put the best interests of parents or Charlie forward and whatever’s motivating her regarding that, we don’t know. But this raises very serious, troubling ethical issues regarding the care of Charlie."
"Could one imagine the opposition that would be raised if she was chair of the head pro-life organization in Great Britain?" asked Mahoney.
Butler-Cole was unsuccessful at getting Charlie's mother Connie excluded from a key meeting today, when American Dr. Michio Hirano will examine Charlie.
Mr. Justice Francis, the judge presiding over the case, is expected to make a decision by or around July 25. Much of that decision will depend on Dr. Hirano's findings.
Mahoney said people supporting Charile are planning another rally in Queen Square on Sunday, July 23 at 3:00 p.m. Charlie's parents previously presented Great Ormond Street Hospital with 350,000 signatures in support of Charlie; Mahoney said they're hoping to reach one million by Sunday.
"When I was advocating for the life of Terri Schiavo, it did not escape notice that murderer Michael Schiavo's had associated himself with 'right to die' advisors," Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, told LifeSiteNews. "No such person, whether in Terri's case or in Charlie's case, is capable of discerning the 'best interests' of the patient, if they are also interested in advancing the 'right to die' cause."
Pavone said there's "no place" for Butler-Cole in advocating for Charlie anyway because that's what his parents are doing.
"Charlie's parents have a sacred trust to decide what is best for him, and have access to numerous doctors who are offering them help," he said. "The discernment of what to do should end there and the courts should step aside. That is the more basic conflict of interest – that is, the interests of the court competing with those of the family."
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