Court Gives Massachusetts Child Welfare Officials Permanent Custody Of Teenage Girl

Free Justina Pelletier

Earlier this month, we told you about one Massachusetts family’s struggle to retain custody of their daughter, whom the State had essentially kidnapped by declaring her parents’ judgment of her healthcare needs subservient to that of the Department of Children and Families. Now, it appears the family has lost their fight not only to care for their daughter, but to keep her in their own home.

A Massachusetts judge has ruled that Justina Pelletier, a teenage girl caught in a diagnostic dispute between her parents and two hospitals, will remain in State care.

Pelletier, 15, has been under the guardianship of the Department of Children and Families for more than a year. If Judge Joseph Johnston’s decision stands, she will remain a ward of the State until she turns 18.

“Despite dealing with her genetic abnormality, Justina lived a fairly normal life with her parents in West Hartford, Conn. That changed in February 2013 when Justina developed flu-like symptoms and her parents took her to Boston Children’s hospital for treatment,” we reported earlier this month.

“There, doctors seeing her for the first time determined that she was suffering from a mental disorder, not mitochondrial disease, and her symptoms were psychosomatic. Without consulting her longtime physician, doctors at Boston Childrens created a new treatment plan for her. When her parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier, declined to sign off on it and took steps to remove their daughter from the hospital, hospital officials contacted the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and accused the Pelletiers of child abuse for subjecting their daughter to invasive medical treatments and denying her mental health therapy.

“The State goon squad then grabbed her from her parents, ushered them out the door and began 14 months of torture for Justina and her parents.”

Pelletier has spent a year in a locked ward at Children’s, and is now living in a facility in Framingham, Mass.

Johnston, in his four-page ruling Tuesday, said that the Pelletiers have continued a pattern of abusive behavior toward medical staffers. He said Justina must remain in State custody until they can demonstrate they are fit parents.

The parents’ case has been embraced by religious groups. The Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington said the Pelletiers think Justina is being “treated as a pawn and piece of property.”

“There is no reason Justina should not be returned immediately back to the parents,” he said after Johnston’s ruling.

Officials say they have been unable to find a facility in Connecticut willing to care for Justina. One withdrew after Lou Pelletier said he would file a lawsuit.

*UPI contributed to this report.

Personal Liberty

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