Another Setback For Pelletier Family As Judge Rules MA Will Receive 'Permanent' Custody of Daughter

Lou and Linda Pelletier have been fighting the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Massachussetts to regain custody of their daughter, Justina for 14 months, and now it looks like they’re facing another major setback as her health declines. In a mind-bogglingly inexplicable decision, a judge has ruled that the state of Massachusetts will receive “permanent” custody of Pelletier.

The conflict stems from a dispute between the family and MA DCF regarding the diagnosis of the teen’s disorder.

Justina was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease at Tufts Medical Center several years ago and put on a treatment plan to alleviate her symptoms. 

Mitochondrial disease includes a group of relatively rare neuromuscular diseases in which the prognosis varies, but is progressive and can lead to death. 

The family’s nightmare began last year when they took Justina to Boston Children’s Hospital for complications with the flu, and doctors there decided she had a psychiatric condition called somatoform disorder. At this point you would think that Tuft’s Medical Center would have been able to communicate to the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital that she had already been properly diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, and that would have ended the stand-off with the parents. But that isn’t what happened. 

After the Pelletiers disagreed with Boston Children’s diagnosis and treatment plan, they tried to take her back to Tufts, and were then accused of medical child abuse. DCF took custody of Justina on Feb. 13, 2013.

Life News reported:

DCF has refused to provide adequate medical care, has refused to allow Justina access to a clergy or communion, and even refused to provide any education for her.

In January of 2013, before she was admitted to the ER at BCH, Justina was involved in ice-skating competitions and was in a private school under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a learning disability. Now, she is weak and in a wheelchair. Without any education, she has fallen at least two years behind her classmates. DCF has allowed the parents only one hour per week to visit their daughter, but always with a DCF worker or workers present. DCF has prevented the parents from taking a cell phone to photograph their daughter. Last month, DCF even filed a motion to hold Lou Pelletier in contempt of court for speaking to the national media.

The Pelletier family’s Liberty Counsel litigation team filed a contempt of court motion against the Massachusetts DCF and a judge ruled against her parents.

The decision came after Lou Pelletier, Justina’s father, disclosed to the attorneys representing her and her family that Justina’s health is rapidly deteriorating. After a Friday visit, Justina’s older sister, Jennifer, told Fox News Connecticut (Fox CT) that her sister’s health is “scary” and she has never seen her in worse condition.

Mat Staver,  the lead attorney for Liberty Counsel, told LifeNews he’d never seen more a more outrageous overreach by a state agency.
“We are now taking proactive measures against the DCF. In all my years in practice, I have never seen a more outrageous overreach by a state agency,” he said. “Three weeks ago, Judge Joseph Johnston approved a written agreement transferring care back to Tufts Medical Center from Boston Children’s Hospital, doctors from which inaccurately diagnosed Justina’s condition. Now, her health has deteriorated to a threatening state. Despite this enforceable order, DCF still has not made appointments with Tufts.”

Staver says the Pelletiers have spoken several times to Dr. Mark Korson, who was treating Justina before this debacle began, and they obtained an appointment date. Dr. Korson said that he wants to see Justina and resume her effective treatment immediately, but on Friday, March 21, DCF outrageously said it will not honor any appointments with Tufts until the judge rules on Tuesday (today).

“A child’s health and welfare are hanging in the balance. We cannot allow DCF to continue withholding treatment from this young girl,” he said. “It is obvious to everyone but DCF that this disease is physical, not psychiatric. DCF should stop delaying, obey the court order, and send her to Tufts for medical treatment immediately.”
Staver added: “The State of Massachusetts cannot make Justina a prisoner merely because they disagree with the medical protocols recommended and administered by a respected medical institution responsible for her care. Today, we all await the judge’s ruling.”
Life News reports that DCF has not only refused to provide adequate medical care, it has refused to allow Justina access to a clergy or communion, and even refused to provide any education for her.

She has only been allowed one, one hour supervised visit per week with her mom and dad who are not even permitted to take photographs of their daughter. 

But, following new legal pressure asserted by Liberty Counsel and intense media scrutiny, DCF permitted the most recent visitation to be unsupervised. Rev. Pat Mahoney, a nationally known pro-life activist, accompanied Lou and Linda Pelletier to visit Justina.

Justina is now speaking out and her words are being heard. Justina told her parents and Rev. Mahoney, “I feel like a prisoner.”

She also asked, “Why can’t I go home with my parents?”