(Author Note: Since this piece was written, Justina has been transferred to a facility in her home state of Connecticut; and her parents have been given greater access to her. She is again being treated by Tufts’ medical personnel and may soon be released into her parents’ custody. Yet she remains a prisoner; and her story – as it is written below – must be told as this author originally wrote it. She is not the only one.)
Justina Pelletier is a teenaged girl who lives in Connecticut. She loves her parents, her church, and competitive figure skating. She has a rare but treatable disease called Mitochondrial Disease. She was being treated effectively enough at Boston’s Tufts Medical Center to continue her figure skating career until she showed flu-like symptoms in February 2013. Her doctor at Tufts advised her parents to take her to the Boston Children’s Hospital ER. Doctors there disagreed with the Tufts diagnosis, claiming her problem was a psycho-somatic disorder, and forcibly placed her in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families when her parents attempted to return her to Tufts. (They refused to sign a consent form in which they had to agree to seek no second opinion.) A Juvenile Court judge delayed a hearing on the case for two months despite state laws requiring a hearing within three days in such cases. He then upheld the DCF finding that she needed to be removed from her parents over what they described as medical abuse – attempting to return her to her doctors at Tufts. That same judge made his custody order permanent early in 2014. She is permitted one hour of supervised visitation with her parents each week.
The abuse this girl and her family have suffered is staggering. In her sixteen months in the custody of DCF, she has gone from being an athlete to being wheelchair bound. Denied access to schoolbooks and teachers – even DCF supplied – she is more than a year behind her classmates at her school back in Connecticut. Her pastor has been denied access to her and she to him; she has been forbidden the all important Catholic rite of Holy Communion these sixteen months. Photos of her in the wheelchair were smuggled out of the hospital, as was a handwritten note in which she says she is being physically abused by staff. And the rules and regs of being a ward of the state in Massachusetts state she can be used as an experimental subject without the consent of Justina or her parents. Many suspect that is what is happening to her.
And for those who will say such things cannot happen in America, recall the forced sterilization experiments on minorities eighty years ago, the experimental exposure of American soldiers to atomic radiation in Nevada in the fifties, and the EPA experiments with carbon monoxide on unwitting test subjects uncovered just last year.
As news coverage of her situation expands and public outcry grows, members of the Massachusetts legislature are calling for her release and the cutoff of funds to DCF until she is released. Her father defied the gag order imposed by the judge and spoke to the media to get the exposure rolling. The scandal grows as it is discovered that more than a hundred children in DCF custody are missing, and a number have been found dead. Olga Roche, the head of DCF, has resigned in the face of the scandal. But Justina remains a prisoner of the state-sponsored gulag in the middle of the birthplace of American freedom. What should American citizens – American parents – be doing?
I pray Justina will be free and DCF on hold pending a thorough investigation by the time this posting sees publication. That investigation needs to include Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard University (of whom the hospital is a creature), and the Star Chamber that passes for the Juvenile Court in Boston. The hue and cry being raised today may well have achieved that…
Americans need to stand for the freedom we have too long taken for granted. I am not talking about violence, but about witness. I have written about the Peter Weir film, “Witness”, in this space before. In the film, corrupt and well armed police are stopped in their tracks by hundreds of unarmed and pacifist Amish farmers who gather in silent and prayerful witness. Hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of Americans need to surround Boston Children’s Hospital – peacefully – and demonstrate – peacefully – until Justina Pelletier emerges from her prison and into the arms of her family. This needs to be the beginning of a pattern of determined massive resistance against government running amok, or – as my own mother used to say – the inmates running the asylum. It needs to go on until sanity is restored–and the arrogant experimenters cast out.
American Blacks were freed from Jim Crow, the Philippines were freed from a dictator, and Eastern Europe was freed from communist/socialist terrorists by millions who rose in peace and refused to bow any longer to the tyrants. Jesus Christ set the whole human race free from death in the same way. But here is a tip – turning to Him is the only way we find the courage and the grace to stay in the game until it is finished.