More than one year ago, the state of Massachusetts made a decision that forever changed the Pelletier family. The entire ordeal began when doctors at two facilities could not agree on an opinion regarding a persistent disorder affecting a young girl in the family.

Her father wanted her to see a former doctor who had transferred from Tufts Medical Center to Boston Children’s Hospital; however, when the teen arrived, she was instead referred to a recent medical school graduate who concluded her diagnosed disease was all in her mind.


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Reports indicate the determination was made after consulting with a staff psychologist who authored a book alleging half of all children experiencing physical pain are really only experiencing a mental disorder. The hospital then put the parents in a no-win situation, declaring their daughter’s disease was basically imagined. Doctors prohibited them from seeking a second opinion on the matter and unilaterally ruled that the young patient’s treatment would be discontinued.

Because of this brief, one-time encounter between the patient and BCH doctors, and her parents’ refusal to forego treatment, the state decided to get involved.

Ultimately, the state Department of Children and Families ripped 15-year-old Justina from her family without ever consulting the experts who had treated her Mitochondrial disorder for years.

In the intervening months, the Pelletiers have publicly fought to have their daughter returned home. Outrageously, though, she remains in the custody of the Massachusetts DCF.


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In a last-ditch effort to reunite their family and get Justina the treatment her doctors say she needs, the Pelletiers have filed an emergency appeal with the state Supreme Court. The move comes just weeks after a judge ruled Justina should remain in the custody of the state.

Attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel concluded that the state “has no right to hold Justina captive.”

He concluded the DCF’s actions are unconstitutional and, in a court petition, asserted the state fell far short of reaching the threshold needed to take custody of a child.

“This case comes down to the simple fact that new doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital, who had no experience with Justina, came up with a different diagnosis than her expert treating physicians at Tufts Medical Center,” he stated. “The state cannot take children from their parents when the parents make reasonable choices for their medical care. This case is outrageous.”

Perhaps the most reprehensible aspect of the ordeal is found in Justina’s deteriorating condition since being kidnapped by state.

“The psychological experiment of Boston Children’s Hospital, under the sanction of DCF, has failed miserably,” Staver said. “Justina has gone from a competitive figure skater to being confined to a wheelchair.”

He said the teen has been denied access to medical care, education, and even religious ceremonies while in the state’s custody.

“DCF has limited the parents to only one hour per week to visit their daughter,” Staver said, “but always with a DCF worker or workers present. DCF has prevented the parents from taking a cell phone in to photograph their daughter.”

Photo Credit: Facebook/Free Justina Pelletier Now


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