Yesterday I posted about Justina Pelletier and how she is being held against her will and against her parents wishes. Her family was in court yesterday, trying to get custody back from Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Sadly, this update is not a positive one but we cannot allow this case to be forgotten and it must be spoken about.
The decision by the judge was to send Justina to foster care, where she will still apparently not be receiving medical care for her very real medical problems, instead of being returned to her parents as we had all hoped. There is another court hearing on March 17, so perhaps there is still hope – and the family has additional legal counsel that an anonymous benefactor is providing, so that is a positive development. The father, Lou, still faces contempt charges for ignoring the gag order and will be in court on March 24. There are serious questions about the legality of the gag order and he and his lawyers are doubling down on it. At this point, he feels that jail time would be worth it if he can save his daughter by going public – certainly, abiding by the gag order for the last 6 months has not helped Justina so he has to try anything he can to save her.
There are so many things that are wrong about this case that it is hard to get it all down in a cohesive fashion – but I will try to hit the highlights…
The neurologist who overturned Justina’s previous diagnosis of mito was apparently only 7 months into his residency and has a vested interest in the diagnosis of somatoform disorder. Treatment for this questionable diagnosis is profitable and kids with rare conditions, good insurance and involved parents seem to be ripe for enslavement in their psych program.[Justina reportedly spent 10 months on Bader 5, a locked psych ward at Boston Children’s. The costs associated with long term in-patient care is significant at best. If the cost of being in-patient is $1,000 per day (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was considerably higher), we can easily do the math and figure out how much the hospital profited.]
Justina was sent to Boston Children’s by her mito specialist specifically to see a GI specialist who had previously seen her and had since moved to BCH. Instead, she saw this neurologist who has ruined her life because ‘he didn’t believe in mito’. Her parents wanted a second opinion and were denied, then slapped with a charge of medical child abuse and lost custody within hours. BCH ignored the previous diagnosis and her mito specialist was ignored and silenced. Once Justina was taken from her parents’ custody, her mito specialist was prevented from speaking publicly about her case.
Typically, medical child abuse is charged when parents refuse to seek medical treatment for an ill child, not when they are following, in good faith, the medical advice of an insurance approved physician (who happens to be from another hospital) and are simply seeking a second opinion when faced with a doctor who labels their child with a mental disorder. There seems to be no accusation of Munchausen’s by proxy and there has been no evidence that the Pelletiers are bad parents.
The medications Justina was on were managing her mito symptoms – vitamin cocktails that are so crucial to helping the body function. Obviously, I don’t know her entire med list prior to BCH, but clearly the vitamins were not toxic and offered no threat. One could EASILY argue that the psychiatric meds that she is now on are far more dangerous than the meds she was previously on. The few medical procedures she had over the years, were ordered by doctors and approved by insurance. BCH and DCF claim that her medical treatment was excessive. So, a tonsillectomy is considered excessive treatment? Exploratory bowel surgery that found and treated a potentially deadly congenital band wrapped around her intestines is excessive? My daughter has had her tonsils out, an appendectomy, a scope, a gastric emptying test, several MRIs and is on a ton of meds. By the standards set by DCF in this case, I should be very afraid that some random doctor we happen to see in the future could decide I am medically abusing my child.
Then there is the fact that Justina was an avid and active figure skater prior to her hospitalization and now, after a year of BCH care, is confined to a wheelchair and is losing strength daily, seems to point to the efficacy of her mito treatment and the sheer folly of the psychiatric treatment she has been receiving.
This child and her family are not even residents of Massachusetts, they are from Connecticut, but Justina is now in the custody of the State of Massachusetts because they were sent to Boston Children’s for treatment. How is that even possible? The governors of both states are saying it is out of their hands. No public officials seem to want to get involved and DCF seems to be all an powerful entity. There is a gag order (although it is highly questionable) that prevents the family from talking about it and DCF seems intent on keeping it all quiet. The parents are on their own fighting an all powerful and uncaring government which is intent on silencing them and retaining control of a helpless child.
There are some legal shenanigans that bring into question everyone from the involved doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital to DCF staff and even the judge himself. The way I see it, they messed up, big time, and know it. Now they have a desperate need to ensure that their misdeeds don’t get brought out into the light of day. They want to bury this story, perhaps quite literally. If you divorce yourself from the notion that DCF has the best interest of Justina at heart, it is not at all difficult to believe that they would be fine with this child literally dying to cover up their wrong-doing. The minute Justina is back in her parents’ custody, it all comes out and the lawsuits start. They don’t want that and this child can be sacrificed on their alter of ‘we were only doing our job’. A dead child cannot testify against them.
Justina is not the first child to suffer this fate at BCH – she is one of many, one of a pattern of kids with rare conditions being forcibly taken away and essentially experimented on without parental consent, not to mention being cash cows for Boston Children’s. If not stopped, the abuse will continue and more children will suffer and more families will be torn apart. Obviously, we all want children who are actually being abused to be protected and there is a real need to do so. But, the only abusers in this case are the authorities at BCH and DCF. Linda and Lou Pelletier have done nothing but try to provide their daughter with the best medical care, they have done nothing wrong and are paying a high price for a broken, evil system.
I don’t know the Pelletiers – I am many, many miles away in another state. I have never met them and probably never will. But, I am taking this case extremely personally and I believe we should all care. Deeply. Because if it can happen to Justina, it can happen to anyone. When I told my husband about Justina being sent to foster care, he looked at me and said, ‘That could be us.’
Yes, it could. It could be anyone with a chronically ill child. The hashtag could be #freeEmily and it could be my husband and I fighting Goliath with a sling shot… when you put your child’s name in place of Justina’s name it puts a whole new spin on the situation. For those of us with sick kids, it is no leap at all to put ourselves in the Pelletier’s shoes. However, any parent, even those with healthy kids, should be able to imagine what it would be like to have your child stolen from you and be powerless to save them.
This is a travesty that must not be ignored. It cannot be swept under the rug. We must keep it in the light and fight for Justina with all the tools at our disposal, because it could so easily be any one of us. As a society, we are only as good as we treat the most helpless among us and we have nothing to be proud of in that regard at the moment. A child with a chronic, rare condition is not a disposable item to be profited from; she is not a guinea pig to be experimented on and thrown away.
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
Replace ‘Jews’ with ‘the chronically ill kids’, replace ‘the Catholics’ with ‘the parents who fight for their kids’ and you have a clear picture of what is happening to our society. This is not the world I want to live in. How about you?
Here is one article about the results of yesterday’s hearing and another with video from Megan Kelly on Fox… Here is an article about the pattern of abuse at BCH. Another good one. And here is a good overview of the case. There is a facebook page approved by the family that provides updates and there is also A Miracle for Justina on FB. Here is a FB profile pic and here is another version to use for sharing this story on social media. By using #freeJustina and #justinapelletier hashtags, we can get these trending and garner more attention. Here is the web site where you can donate to the cause if you are able. The family is having severe financial struggles as a result of this year long legal battle.
There is little coverage of this story on mainstream media, but Glenn Beck has been following this story closely recently and now Fox News is starting to cover it; it is starting to get out more and more in both the mainstream media and social media. If we stand together, they will not be able to get away with this and we can save Justina. And, in doing so, we will make this scary world a little safer for our own vulnerable kids…
Please continue to pray for the Pelletiers, for Linda and Lou, for Justina’s sisters and for Justina herself – this is a burden no family should bear. Pray that Justina can hold on until she can get medical treatment. Pray for wisdom for their legal team and for the judge and the people pushing this case.