Belfast Telegraph

Pro-life campaigner Smyth under fire for 'Nazi' tweet after the death of Charlie Gard

By Mark Edwards

A controversial anti-abortion campaigner has been criticised for comparing the death of Charlie Gard to a Nazi plan to kill disabled people by lethal injection or poison gas.

Eleven-month old Charlie died from a rare genetic condition last Friday after a marathon legal battle between his parents and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) over his medical treatment, which attracted worldwide attention.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates fought a five-month campaign to have their son transferred from GOSH in London, where he was on life support, to America for treatment.

However, specialists at GOSH in London said the treatment was experimental and would not help.

The protracted legal battle saw the couple take their case to the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court - all of which ruled life support treatment should end and Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity.

Bernadette Smyth, the founder and director of Northern Ireland anti-abortion group Precious Life, said on social media: "May the death of baby Charlie Gard be a warning to all people in the UK that the Nazi program Aktion T4 is alive and well."

Aktion T4 was a programme of mass murder in Nazi Germany. It is estimated 275,000 disabled people were murdered by the Nazis.

The campaigner was due to speak on Stephen Nolan's BBC Radio Ulster programme yesterday morning, but declined to appear after being informed she would be questioned on her comments about the Charlie Gard case.

Speaking on the Nolan Show, Dawn McAvoy, from the Northern Ireland Evangelical Alliance, said: "In the light of a very complex case that has struck and touched everybody's heart worldwide, it is not a helpful comment.

"It is certainly not something that we or I would say. I would not use that comparison with what happened.

"It does not help as we discuss, going forward, the trust issues that broke down. The need for parents to have a say and medical professionals to communicate everything that was involved with that case that needs to be considered now for people going forward.

"People living with a disability, that is what the Nazis purposefully tried to eradicate, and it was an intentional programme to end people's lives who weren't dying. It was a very different case."

She added: "I understand that people out of compassion can make statements that potentially are not helpful.

"But going forward I think everybody who is interested and has concerns about the value of life in society, whether it is disability or it is health, then we need to be very careful with our language and our words and not necessarily jump to an extreme, when all of the details of the (Charlie Gard) case are not in the public domain."

The Belfast Telegraph contacted Precious Life for comment from Mrs Smyth, but was told she was unavailable. However, on Monday Mrs Smyth said on social media: "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible #leastweforget (sic) #weareallcharlie."

Great Ormond Street Hospital declined to comment.

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