Very Ill Teen Removed to Foster Care Against Parents' Wishes - Family Deconstruction By Diagnosis

This week, a disturbing story hit the news, as a judge in Massachusetts refused to return an ill teenage girl to her parents, instead ordering her to remain in state custody. The reason for removing the girl from her parents in the first place? The parents challenged a new doctor's conclusion that the illness literally crippling their daughter was a mental rather than physical disorder (another doctor had previously diagnosed a physical ailment).

Parents have a legal right to direct the upbringing of their children, but the state has a duty to intervene to protect children when necessary. These interests often conflict, as they did here, and when each is not appropriately assessed, children suffer.

You can read a news article on the story here, and an insightful perspective from CitizenLink below.

Also, for advice from Focus on the Family on choosing a child's health care provider, see this link.

February 25, 2014 Print from CitizenLink.com

Parental Rights at Stake in Case of Ailing Teen

by Kim Trobee
Justina Pelletier has been at Boston Children’s Hospital for more than a year now.  No, it’s not her illness that is keeping her there.  Justina has been removed from her parent’s custody because doctors say her mother and father are guilty of medical child abuse.
For several years Justina received treatment for mitochondrial disease after Dr. Mark Korson, a specialist at Tufts, diagnosed her illness.  But last February, her condition worsened and she was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital because the gastroenterologist she had been seeing had recently moved there.
What happened next is a parent’s nightmare.
Lou and Linda Pelletier never did consult with the gastroenterologist.  Instead, Children’s doctors examined Justina and formed their own plan of action, which included discontinuing the medication she was on and diagnosing her with somatoform disorder.  The treatment?  Psychiatric care.
Lou and Linda objected strenuously.  And when they did, Children’s Hospital contacted DCF, the state’s child welfare department and alleged abuse.
This week a judge ruled that Justina would be placed in the foster care system and will be transferred to a non-medical facility.  Linda fainted outside the courtroom and was taken to a hospital.
“I was nearby when Linda collapsed, and it was heartbreaking,” said Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA.  “No parent should suffer as the Pelletiers are suffering.  Knowing that their daughter will be cruelly and intentionally transferred to a facility that is unable to care for her medical needs is devastating.”
Mat Staver with Liberty Counsel is defending the family.
“The story of Justina Pelletier is like a horror movie,” he said. “The very purpose of the First Amendment’s protections is to protect citizens against this kind of governmental oppression.”
Child welfare representatives asked a judge to intervene, alleging Lou Pelletier violated a gag order about the case, but no such order was ever put in writing.
“The DCF’s motion for contempt is nothing more than an attempt to prevent the public from gaining access to information concerning the State’s unconstitutional intrusion into the fundamental parental rights of the Pelletiers,” said Staver, “and to extend the secrecy of these proceedings.”
Rev. Patrick Mahoney announced that a national coalition to Free Justina would be holding a prayer vigil and public witness at noon on Saturday, March 1 at the facility where Justina is being held.
As for Justina’s physical condition – she is now confined to a wheelchair.
Learn more about the Pelletier’s and their case.

1 comment:

  1. The Justina Pelletier case is indeed heart-wrenching -- a father innocently takes his daughter to an emergency room for treatment of the flu and ends up losing custody of her for over a year. It is absolutely astonishing that in this country, where for over a century the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children has been recognized as a paramount doctrine in family law, a child can be placed in state custody against the wishes of her parents in order to undergo secret medical testing. Though Justina ultimately returned to her family, the pain and loss experienced during her "captivity" cannot be undone. Justina's family has since filed a lawsuit against Boston Children's Hospital, alleging civil rights violations and medical malpractice. Additionally, federal legislation has been introduced that would prevent the state from interfering with parental rights regarding the upbringing of their children. It is imperative that those with the ability to influence public policy, safeguard parental rights in order to ensure that a tragedy like the one suffered by the Pelletier's never happens again.