LONDON — Britain's foreign secretary has backed U.K. court decisions preventing the parents of a terminally ill child from taking him abroad for experimental treatment, despite an offer of help from a Vatican hospital.
Boris Johnson's comment Wednesday came during a previously scheduled call in which Italy's foreign minister raised the hospital's offer to treat 11-month-old Charlie Gard, who is suffering from a rare genetic condition that has damaged his brain and left him unable to breathe without assistance.
Charlie's parents want to take him to the United States for an experimental medical treatment they believe may prolong his life, but a succession of judges have backed specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London who say the therapy won't help Charlie and may cause him to suffer.
"The foreign secretary said this was a deeply tragic and complex case for all involved, and said it was right that decisions continued to be led by expert medical opinion, supported by the courts, in line with Charlie's best interests," Johnson's spokesman said in statement.
President Donald Trump and Pope Francis brought international attention to the family's legal battle this week by commenting on a case that pits the rights of parents to decide what's best for their children against the responsibility of authorities to make sure children receive the most appropriate care.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Tuesday that the Holy See would do everything possible to overcome legal obstacles to bringing Charlie to Rome for treatment. Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano raised the offer from the Bambino Gesu children's hospital in his call with Johnson.
Earlier, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that she understands Charlie's parents are trying to do what's right for their child, but that in cases like this doctors are forced to make "heartbreaking decisions."
"I am confident that Great Ormond Street Hospital have and always will consider any offers or new information that has come forward with consideration of the well-being of a desperately ill child," May said.