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Charlie Gard: Pessina (bioethicist), “don’t let’s turn off the restless question of our conscience as to whether care still makes sense in the age of technology”




“We live in an anesthetised society that does not know how to listen to the language of suffering and pain, the language that inspired Charlie’s parents, and hastily opposes it to the language of love. Yet, there’s lots of love in the wish to cherish one’s child, despite the disease, the unfavourable diagnosis, the doctors’ expertise, the judges’ painstaking accuracy”. This was written by Adriano Pessina, director of the University Centre of Bioethics of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, in a message for SIR. “Once little Charlie’s life has gone – he points out –, the limelight will go: don’t let’s turn off the restless question of our conscience that asks us whether care still makes sense in the age of technology”. According to Pessina, “terminally ill does not mean incurably ill, and the concept of care includes assisting the sick person to his death, which in turn must be as proportional as the treatment”. Hence the question: “Is letting the disease run its course and giving little Charlie all the help of palliative care that we have while we assist him to his death the same thing as deep sedation and turning off his life-support machine?”. According to the bioethicist, “when there’s nothing left to do, there’s still a lot to do. Today, the child’s clinical condition will probably be worse, and there may be more medical reasons to uphold that decision, but many questions are left unanswered. Medicine has limits, of course, humans have limits, but the legal stubbornness with which the parents’ concern has been responded to is bewildering”.


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