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The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

The nightmarish tale of the 15-year-old girl whose parents say she was ‘kidnapped’ by doctors

Justina Pelletier, before and afterMaybe physicians are the scurvy bottom feeders Barack Obama proclaimed them to be back before Congress agreed to cram his health care law down the throats of unsuspecting American voters. Certainly, one might look askance at doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital, who have been accused of “kidnapping” a 15-year-old and keeping her there against her parents’ wishes.

The story, which is as tragic as it is surreal, is also rife with improbable accusations by the distraught family, including claims that doctors have been using the girl as a guinea pig for experimentation. The family’s grief reaction — there is no other term for it — should not be mistaken for melodramatics.

The unvarnished facts are that Justina Pelletier of West Hartford, Conn., was admitted to the hospital nine months ago suffering a bout of the flu. At the time of her admission, she had been under treatment for three years for mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic muscle wasting condition.

Once an inpatient, Justina was diagnosed as suffering from somatoform disorder, a psychiatric condition. Doctors insisted that the earlier diagnosis had been incorrect and that Justina’s parents had been “over-medicalizing” her.

When the girl’s mother, Linda, tried to take her to another hospital for a pre-arranged appointment with a regular specialist, child welfare workers were called in. Within 24 hours, a judge had ruled that Justina was required to remain at Boston Children’s. The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, moreover, was effectively given custody of the child.

Under the terms of the court order, the family gets weekly visitations with Justina, each one hour in duration. A member of social services must be present. Justina is permitted to phone home but the calls are monitored.

In the meantime, her physical health has declined dramatically. She can no longer walk unaided, and her family claims that staff has told her she “is never getting out.”

A report written in April acknowledges that doctors at the hospital took Justina off many of the medications she was taking at the time she was admitted. The absence of drugs used to treat mitochondrial disease would seem to dovetail with her symptoms.

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  • Gal Spunes

    If that was my daughter, the news would be full of reports of gunfire at the hospital.

    Kidnapping children = cassus belli

  • Gal Spunes

    If that was my daughter, the news would be full of reports of gunfire at the hospital.

    Kidnapping children = casus belli

  • Bobby Shandy

    Psychiatrists and lawyers, destroying mankind…

  • aez

    We can expect to see more of this kind of thing.

  • Jennifer Moffett

    ‘Jessica’ or Justina’?

    • Howard Portnoy

      Thank you for pointing that out. I will call it to the writer’s attention.

  • Clynn777

    First, whatever happened to parental rights? Do doctors have the right now to dramatically change/discontinue existing treatments without input/consideration of the parents &/or patient? When did any suggested treatment become mandatory? What the heck does “over-medicalizing” mean? Why the need to restrict/monitor parental contacts? How does the behavior of these parents constitute abuse? Is seeking treatment/advice at another facility, from other drs., or 2nd opinions abusive or endangering? Unless a big puzzle piece is missing, CPS has NO BUSINESS being involved in this case at all, never mind the restrictive, TRULY abusive undermining of the parents’ authority, & the relationship of these parents w/ their daughter. It often seems like CPS pounces on parents when they are GOOD parents, but refuse to act when legitimate abuse/endangerment is present. How much of this is the elitest mindset of,”WE know best, therefore, your wishes/concerns are irrelevant.” I suspect that these parents are still responsible for paying for any/all treatment @ this facility– apparently they are still worthy of this involvement. Hmm…. Can we PLEASE purge our nation of all the “It takes a village” crap??? Maybe the people who opposed these parents will, as part of the “village”, cover the cost of college for this girl when the time comes (if they don’t kill her first). Remember, MSNBC stated that, “Your children REALLY don’t belong to you…”). This story is despicable, meaning the misuse & abuse of power to force compliance, and severely damage/scar a family, while disregarding this family’s/patient’s right to accept OR reject medical treatment as THEY SEE FIT!!!!!! Drop the arrogance, & BUTT OUT!