LONDON—A British judge ordered Thursday that critically ill infant Charlie Gard should be moved from a hospital to a hospice, where he will “inevitably” die within a short time.
Judge Nicholas Francis made the order after Charlie’s parents and the hospital treating him failed to meet a deadline to agree on an end-of-life care plan that could have seen the baby kept alive for several more days.
The judge said that meant 11-month-old Charlie, who has a rare genetic disease called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, should now be transferred to a hospice and have the ventilator that keeps him alive removed.
The judge said the actions “will inevitably result in Charlie’s death within a short period of time thereafter.”
He barred identification of the hospice or any of the medical staff treating Charlie.
Charlie has brain damage and is unable to breathe unaided.
His parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spent months trying to persuade London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital to let Charlie go to the United States for an experimental treatment they believed could help him. Charlie’s doctors opposed the idea, saying it would not help and could cause Charlie more suffering.
British courts and the European Court of Human Rights all sided with the hospital in its bid to remove life support and allow Charlie to die naturally.
Earlier this week Charlie’s parents gave up their legal fight, acknowledging that the window of opportunity to help him had closed.
They then sought to take their son home to die, but Great Ormond Street Hospital said it was not practical. At an emotional hearing on Wednesday, the judge said Charlie would, inevitably, end his days in a hospice. Yates left the hearing in tears.
The case attracted international attention after U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis expressed support for Charlie’s parents. U.S.-based religious and anti-abortion activists flew to London to support the family’s battle.
The case has become the catalyst for debates about health care funding, medical intervention, the role of the state and the rights of the child.