One of the many fronts in the fight to give baby Charlie Gard a chance of life is being waged in the United States Congress. Two House members, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio and Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz. are pushing a bill to grant Charlie and his parents permanent residency in the United States so that the infant can be treated.

It’s a personal matter for Rep. Winstrup

23 years ago, Winstrup’s sister came down with leukemia. Her doctors concluded that her only chance to live would be to undergo a bone marrow transplant. However, the insurance company, in an ominous parallel to how the British National Health Service is treating the prospect of Charlie getting treatment, denied coverage, claiming that the procedure was experimental.

The family fought the insurance company and managed to compel it to cover part of the procedure. The congressman’s sister survived and is currently married with two children.

Could Charlie become an American?

The bill being offered by Wenstrup and Franks would provide a pathway for Charlie and his parents to become American citizens, should they so choose. A lot would depend on the effectiveness of the treatment, which is considered a long shot at best. If Charlie dies despite the treatment, there would be no reason for his parents to remain in the United States. However, if the baby were to respond well to the therapy, it might be beneficial for the family to stay in America on a permanent basis where the infant can receive the sort of care that is being denied by his country’s government-run health care system.

What kind of bill are the congressmen offering?

The bill being offered by Wenstrup and Franks is called a “private law” meant to apply to a particular person and his or her unique circumstances that a general law cannot cover. Some 170 private laws were passed between 1986 and 2015, 94 of which involved immigration issues.

How is Charlie doing now?

As of this writing, Charlie’s parents have to provide proof to a British judge that the experimental treatment they propose for their son would be of some benefit. The Great Ormond Street Hospital, which has petitioned to deny Charlie the opportunity to get care in the United States, had a change of heart and had decided to approve his transfer pending a court decision.

In the meantime, Charlie’s case continues to spark questions about the morality of single payer, government run healthcare. Proponents of such a system in the United States have thus far failed to provide sufficient answers about what happens when matters of life and death are left in the hands of government bureaucrats.