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Lawmakers propose bill to grant lawful permanent status in US to Charlie Gard and his parents

Connie Yates, mother of terminally ill 10-month-old Charlie Gard, carries a toy Sunday after delivering a petition of signatures supporting their case to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, in central London. The petition, with over 350,000 signatures, demands the parents be allowed to take him to the United States for treatment. (Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images)

Newly proposed legislation from two Republican members of Congress would grant lawful permanent status in the United States to Charlie Gard and his family, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) wrote in an op-ed published by Fox News on Tuesday.

Charlie, who suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease, has been a patient at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London since November. The hospital pronounced Charlie terminally ill and sought to remove his life support, which his parents challenged in court.

The parents’ appeals to prevent the removal of Charlie’s life support failed in both the U.K. Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Charlie’s parents are currently appealing the decision in the the U.K.'s High Court of Justice.

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have argued that the hospital should release their son into their custody so they can take him to the United States for an experimental treatment. They raised the funds required to do so through an online crowdfunding campaign.

The hospital has argued that such treatments wouldn’t work and that Charlie should be “allowed to die with dignity.”

The case gained additional international attention after both Pope Francis and President Donald Trump weighed in on the case, offering their support to Charlie. The Vatican’s children’s hospital offered to treat Charlie, but the offer was rejected by the Great Ormond Street Hospital.

New York Presbyterian Hospital has also offered to treat Charlie.

Franks and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) announced last week that they plan to introduce a bill they say would allow Gard and Yates to seek treatment for their son in the United States.

In Monday’s op-ed, Franks wrote that the “twisted, upside-down case” merits a response from the United States.

“Doctors and the judiciary have said that, not only is there no hope, but rather than release Charlie to the care of his parents, they have also omnisciently decided to literally hold him hostage — insisting not only that Charlie must die but that he also must be in their ‘care’ when he does,” Franks wrote. “It is a case that rocks America to our core, because if something like this can happen across the pond, it can certainly happen here.

“The moment a human life can begin to be measured on a sliding scale — when lawmakers and doctors decide what ‘life is unworthy of life’ — this is the moment our humanity itself begins to unravel,” he added.

Franks wrote that he and Wenstrup “have proposed legislation to grant lawful permanent status in the U.S. to Charlie Gard and his family, so they can at least pursue their best hope for Charlie.”

“We mustn’t be fooled into missing the utter barbarity of this court ruling or what it means for our societies if it is allowed to stand,” he said.

Wenstrup wrote in a Facebook post, “Should this little boy be ordered to die — because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

“Every human life has dignity, including the lives of those who cannot speak up for themselves,” Wenstrup said.

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