In a heart-rending decision today, Judge Joseph Johnston gave permanent custody of desperately debilitated 15-year-old Justina Pelletier to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DC). Lou and Linda Pelletier and their four daughters live in West Hartford, Connecticut, or did until Justina was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment for the flu. Justina had been treated by Tufts Medical Center’s Dr. Mark Korson for Mitochondrial disease, an inherited condition that one of her sisters also has. Once Justina entered Boston Children’s they kept her. That was over a year ago.
In January of 2013, before she was admitted to the ER at BCH, Justina was involved in ice-skating competitions and was in a private school under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a learning disability. Now, she is weak and in a wheelchair. Without any education, she has fallen at least two years behind her classmates. DCF has allowed the parents only one hour per week to visit their daughter, but always with a DCF worker or workers present. DCF has prevented the parents from taking a cell phone to photograph their daughter. Last month, DCF even filed a motion to hold Lou Pelletier in contempt of court for speaking to the national media. Source: Life News (read more here)
In early March the Pelletiers were told they could return their daughter to the care of Tufts but the Massachusetts DCF would still retain temporary custody. The family set up the appointment with Dr. Korson who is eager to return her to the previous treatments which seemed to be working when you look at the ‘then and now’ photo below. DCF refused to honor the appointment date.
What you see above happened while in the care of Boston Children’s Hospital.
Life News quotes the Pelletier’s attorney, Mat Staver, stating:
“The State of Massachusetts cannot make Justina a prisoner merely because they disagree with the medical protocols recommended and administered by a respected medical institution responsible for her care. Today, we all await the judge’s ruling.”
Here’s what got in the craw of the Judge who did not lose a child to the Massachusetts DCF:
Johnston said Lou and Linda Pelletier were “verbally abusive,” citing an instance when “they called hospital personnel Nazis,” and another when the judge said a state social worker had to be removed from the case due to allegations that Lou Pelletier threatened the worker. Source: FoxCT
I don’t have to think long or hard to know what my husband would say if we were in the Pelletier’s position. Can you imagine being under a gag order for a year, as your child withers away, and under the treat of a jail sentence. Justina’s case has only gotten as far as it has today because Lou Pelletier disobeyed the order and began talking.
Note that Boston Children’s did not accuse the Pelletiers of endangering their child physically or verbally, but they did accuse Justina of having psychological problems, and have claimed that she does not have Mitochondrial disease.
The family cannot have the case reviewed before May 20th, six months after Johnson’s initial decision. Prayers needed now that Justina get back under the care of Dr. Mark Korson and that Korson not be hit with a gag order. My original story on Justina is here.