Never Gonna Let Her Go

According to ABC News, on March 26, a Boston juvenile court judge gave  the state of Massachusetts permanent custody of Justina Pelletier until the age of 18, issuing a ruling that chastised the parents accused of mismanaging the treatment of their sick 15-year-old.


“Justina has been under the psychiatric care of Boston Children’s Hospital for the last 13 months and her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier of West Hartford, Conn., have been only allowed to see their daughter once a month under state supervision.


“Suffolk County Court Judge Joseph Johnston ruled March 25 that the girl will remain in the hands of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families unless her parents can prove they are capable of taking care of their daughter.


“The four-page ruling slammed the family for verbally abusing hospital caregivers by calling them “Nazis” and accusing them of ‘kidnapping’ and ‘killing’ their daughter, according to a copy obtained by


“The judge also alleged that the social worker assigned to Justina’s case had to be reassigned because Lou Pelletier threatened her. He said the family has stood in the way of every attempt to get Justina treatment.


“’Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere,” read the ruling. ‘Unfortunately, there has been not any progress by the parents.’


“Lou Pelletier, who filed an appeal in the custody case last December, told that he is now ready to file a writ of habeas corpus in Massachusetts Supreme Court for “wrongful imprisonment” of his daughter.


“’Eventually, we are working on federal lawsuits to do with civil rights violations,’ said the financial planner, who is the father of four girls. “We are just trying to determine which state to file them in.


“’Obviously, as much as we are devastated, this is the corrupt, crooked court system, he added. ‘This shows the judge is a coward.’


“The judge in the case ruled that Justina has a ‘persistent and severe somatic symptom disorder,’ a psychiatric condition that causes a person to experience physical pain for which no known medical explanation can be found. He said the ruling was based on ‘credible medical and psychiatric evidence.’


“The judge said Justina was ready to be discharged from Boston Children’s Hospital in June 2013, but she remained an additional seven months because placement was ‘significantly hampered’ by her parents.



“He added that the Pelletiers had stood in the way of Connecticut child protective services placing Justina close to home because they ‘threatened to sue.’ Other suitable programs denied placement because of ‘concerns of litigation,’ according to the ruling.


“For the last year, Justina has been in temporary state custody under court-ordered treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital in a case that has pitted those involved in her care against her family and enraged advocates.


“Lou Pelletier has said that before the family took Justina to Boston Children’s Hospital’s emergency room in February 2013, she was being treated by Dr. Mark Korson at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder with physical symptoms that can affect every part of the body.


“Since then, Justina has been confined to a wheelchair, and Lou Pelletier has alleged her medical symptoms are not being treated and her condition has deteriorated.


“Justina’s older sister, Jennifer Pelletier, 22, told she was concerned about swelling in Justina’s legs, which ‘could be a heart or kidney condition.’


“’Every time I see her she is worse,’ Jennifer Pelletier said”


According to Fox News’ Dr. Ablow, Judge Johnston put Justina into the custody of the state “based on the opinion of doctors from Boston’s Children’s Hospital, who believe Justina’s parents have played a role in causing her to believe she is medically ill, when she is not—that they have kindled in her a ‘somatoform disorder’ in which bodily symptoms actually have purely psychological roots, not anatomic ones.


“Even if Justina did have somatoform disorder (and experts at Boston’s New England Medical Center insist she does not), this is a watershed moment in the history of the state asserting power to obliterate parental rights,” Ablow writes.


“Why?  Because millions of parents could one day be accused of putting in motion psychological dynamics that manifest themselves as psychiatric illness, leading parents to lose custody of their sons or daughters.


“From my experience as an adult, adolescent and forensic psychiatrist over the past twenty years, I can tell you that parents have a profoundly powerful psychological impact on children. Constant arguing between parents can truly spark anxiety disorders or attention deficit disorder in their offspring.”


However, Ablow notes that basing judgment on such a condition could easily lead to many children being removed from their parents for non-extreme reasons.  He cites a child whose mother is depressed and is then constantly depressed himself, and then is bullied, leading to greater depression.  Or a child with asthma whose parents helicopter over her, increasing anxiety, which can worsen asthma.

Ablow notes, “In the Pelletier family’s case, experts from two separate hospitals disagree vehemently about whether the Pelletiers have done anything at all to cause their daughter’s suffering. And, believe me, in all the scenarios listed above, doctors would disagree with one another, too, leaving parents at the mercy of the professional styles, biases and levels of ability of the clinicians they meet.


“That’s why Boston’s Children’s Hospital, in making a play to take over the life of Justina Pelletier, just told all parents that they should consider their parental rights temporary, until some doctor, at some other misguided hospital, decides that their son’s or daughter’s condition is really their fault, and takes away their kids.”


 This is the kind of thing Mom and Dad warned about back in the Sixties with the advent of Communism.  Mothers would encouraged to work instead of raise their children(!).  Young children would be placed daycare facilities until they were old enough to go to public school.  Children would be inveigled to spy on their parents and blab about anything the family was doing that contradicted the party agenda.


And the government could take children away from their parents without cause.


If I’m not very much mistaken, it was a doctor, not Mrs. Pelletier, who diagnosed Justina with mitochondrial disease.  As for the Pelletiers “verbally abusing” the medical staff of Boston Children’s Hospital (hope they had a few well-chosen words for Boston’s DCF as well), charging them with “kidnapping” and “killing” their daughter, well, if the word fits, hang it on your sign.


If it isn’t “kidnapping,” what does Massachusetts call taking a child away from her parents, especially when another Boston hospital disagrees with Boston Children’s diagnosis?  Why should Boston Children’s Hospital’s diagnosis carry more weight than Tufts University Medical Center (also located in Boston)?


Who is this Judge Joseph Johnston?  He was the judge in previous cases regarding the Pelletiers, wasn’t he?  Maybe it’s time he recused himself from the case, or someone else should take him off the case.


According to Lynne Vogel, a blogger on Daily Kos, “If the child’s parents had been silent and obeyed Judge Johnston’s gag order the circumstances of Justina’s usurpation would be unknown. The Boston Globe’s extensive reports have raised questions regarding the immediacy and necessity of removing Justina’s care from parental control to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, her thirteen-month detention and circumscribed visitations.

“Prior to Judge Johnston’s permanent custody ruling, Lou and Linda Pelletier were allowed an hour a week with their daughter. Now MDCF has forbidden the family any physical contact with their daughter.

“In spite of conflicting expert medical testimony, Judge Joseph Johnston stated in his latest disposition that Justina is suffering from psychosis induced by her parents and will remain a ward of the state, perhaps until her eighteen birthday.  Judge Johnston would prefer that the Connecticut Department of Children and Families assume responsibility but the agency has declined.

“By all accounts Juvenile Judge Joseph Johnston has not been an impartial overseer.  He provides no explanation for his gag order or the state’s effort’s to charge the parents with contempt of court. Because of media attention, these punitive directives have been withdrawn. Judge Johnston should have appointed a guardian ad litem in February to protect Justina’s interests but inexplicably waited until December.


“From the evidence presented it does not appear that Judge Johnston has been acting in Justina’s best interests. He disapproves of the Pelletier’s obstreperous behavior but that is of no import. Justina has the right to return home and to her Tufts physicians. It is not the family’s fault that two medical institutions have a conflict of opinion regarding Justina’s course of treatment.”


The Boston Globe reports:

“Justina had been sick on and off for several years.  A team of respected doctors at Tufts Medical Center in Boston had been treating her for mitochondrial disease, a group of rare genetic disorders that affect how cells produce energy, often causing problems with the gut, brain, muscles and heart.

“Justina had gone to Children’s Hospital this time because the girl’s main specialist at Tufts, Dr. Mark Korson, wanted Justina to be seen by her longtime gastroenterologist, who had recently moved from Tufts to Children’s.

“But after Justina had been at Children’s for just three days, her new doctors changed course dramatically. During a tense meeting with Justina’s parents, the Children’s doctors said they believed their daughter’s problems were largely psychiatric, and they would be withdrawing several of the medications that her Tufts doctors had prescribed.

“The parents — Linda in person and her husband, Lou, by phone from Connecticut — strongly objected. They complained that despite their repeated requests, Justina had still not been seen by her gastroenterologist. They became furious when the Children’s team informed the parents that they would be prohibited from seeking second opinions, including from Korson.

“The next morning, Lou arrived at the hospital, still enraged. After conferring with his wife, he strode over to the ninth-floor neurology nurses’ station and introduced himself as Justina’s father.

“’We have standing appointments for her at Tufts,’ he said. ‘Enough is enough. We want her discharged.’

“He assumed it was their right as Justina’s parents to remove their daughter and take her to the hospital of their choice.  But behind the scenes, Children’s had contacted the state’s child protection agency to discuss filing ‘medical child abuse’ charges, as doctors grew suspicious that the parents were harming Justina by interfering with her medical care and pushing for unnecessary treatments.

The Globe’s language is quite correct; the doctors may have claimed that “the parents were harming Justina by interfering with her medical care, etc.” but DCF and Boston Children’s are notorious for cases of neglect, abuse, and mishandling patients.

“Now, as Lou scanned the neurology floor, he noticed that hospital security guards were blocking every exit, focusing their eyes on him.

“These cases are rare,” the Globe reporter goes on to say, “but not as rare as one might think. In just the last 18 months, Children’s — which given its reputation attracts many of the toughest cases from across the Northeast — has been involved in at least five cases where a disputed medical diagnosis led to parents either losing custody or being threatened with that extreme measure.  Similar custody fights have occurred on occasion at other pediatric hospitals around the country.

“It happens often enough that the pediatrician who until recently ran the child protection teams at both Children’s and Massachusetts General Hospital said she and others in her field have a name for this aggressive legal-medical maneuver. They call it a ‘parent-ectomy.’

“It happens often enough that the pediatrician who until recently ran the child protection teams at both Children’s and Massachusetts General Hospital said she and others in her field have a name for this aggressive legal-medical maneuver. They call it a ‘parent-ectomy.’

“Typically in these cases, the child had been diagnosed elsewhere with one of several relatively new disorders that are complex, poorly understood, and controversial.

“The child’s medical record usually contained references to the parents being highly stressed and difficult to handle. And when the parents in most of these cases rejected the suggestion by doctors that the child’s problems were more psychiatric than physical, that sparked the medical team’s concern, paving the way for the call to the state child-protection agency.

“In Massachusetts, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigates all child abuse and neglect complaints and is supposed to be a neutral referee assessing the charges against the parents. Many parents and their advocates complain, however, that the state agency, because of its lack of in-house medical expertise and its longstanding ties with Children’s, is overly deferential to the renowned Harvard teaching hospital.

“There can be no denying that Children’s doctors and nurses provide remarkable care on a daily basis, saving lives and advancing medicine. And they’re legally obligated to report any suspicions of child abuse. But given its well-earned reputation, Children’s can sometimes be a difficult institution to challenge.

“Around the same time as Justina’s admission, a 5-year-old Massachusetts girl, who had been treated for mitochondrial disorder at Mass. General, arrived at Children’s.  Within a couple weeks, her mother was escorted out of the hospital by security late on a Friday afternoon, and the state took emergency custody of the girl. For the first time in her life, she spent the night without a family member at her side.

“Two other cases involved diagnostic disputes over a rare autoimmune ailment known as PANDAS. In one of them, the parents of a 16-year-old New York girl lost custody of their daughter in the fall of 2012, shortly after her arrival at Children’s. The teenager was moved into the hospital’s locked psychiatric unit, and remained out of her parents’ custody for seven months.

“In a fifth case, state investigators did not substantiate Children’s allegations against the parents, but hospital representatives continued to encourage ongoing state involvement, long after the patient’s care had been moved to a different hospital.”

Well, after five pages (!), you get the idea.  Apparently, Boston Children’s Hospital doesn’t believe in research but, rather, psychological conspiracy theories.  They don’t seem to believe in the new technologies that are revealing the causes of previously untreatable – and sometimes even unknown – diseases.

If we were back in the Dark Ages, the doctors at Tufts would be thrown into the dungeon for medical heresy.  Instead, Boston Children’s, with the official bureaucratic and armed (?) assistance of the seriously dysfunctional DCF (their mishandling of cases are legend) has thrown Justina into the dungeon, kept from her family except under the strictest of watches.

The Pelletiers were only allowed a one-hour visit per week, under the supervision of armed guards.  They were not permitted to photograph or videorecord their daughter, and they were certainly not allowed a second opinion.  Now they’re not allowed to see her at all.

The medieval doctors, nurses, and social workers at Boston Children’s should try a year’s subscription to Scientific American, or any of the other science and medical journals that are published.  Since they’re obviously carried away with their pedigreed medical degrees, they don’t think they have anything new to learn.

Scientific American – and the journals SA bases its stories on – publishes monthly stories about new techniques and methods for treating neurological conditions, as well as stories about microcellular research.

But then, Justina Pelletier’s case isn’t about medical engineering; it’s about social engineering.




Published in: on April 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

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