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Arthur Schaper: Justina: Still Not Free

Friday, April 18, 2014


The Pelletiers should not have to wait. Free Justina now, urges Arthur Schaper.

Last week, I reported on the unjust treatment which young Justina Pelletier and family were enduring, first from Boston Children’s Hospital, then the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families

On April 14, the Pelletier parents filed an emergency petition with the Massachusetts Supreme Court demanding custody of their daughter. Their Habeas Corpus petition charges specifically that the DCF has provided no written evidence to support holding the young lady from her parents, and that nothing has justified keeping her from her parents for fourteen months.

Psychiatrist Keith Ablow (also an expert witness and Fox News contributor) has gotten involved, meeting with the parents to discuss the next steps for assisting this family. His comments about the Justina affair:

It was about a family being shattered by the state trampling upon their rights and the rights of their daughter.

Not just sources from purportedly conservative media conglomerates, but liberal websites have advocated for the family at the expense of the experts.

From The Daily Kos:

The Justina Pelletier Boston Children's Hospital experience, as reported by The Boston Globe, demonstrates that parents and children have no substantive rights in the matter of medical child abuse allegations. Parents who follow physicians' recommendations may be charged with abuse and lose their children to state welfare agencies.

Despite the heavy-handed nature of the assessment, one can reach no better conclusion regarding the current fallout and potential fate of young Justina. Her parents followed their doctors orders, brought their child to a suggested medical professional in another hospital, and yet another set of doctors offered a different diagnosis, then proposed another treatment. When the parents disputed the second opinion, the hospital refused to release the child back, and then the state welfare bureau intervened, taking “permanent” custody of the child.

The Daily Kos column disputes the “improbable” Somatoform diagnosis, a weak supposition which engendered the controversial allegations that the parents were somehow abusing their daughter.

The same article then spotlights Massachusetts DCF’s legal discretion to force Justina to endure state-sponsored experiments, even beyond a “minimal” threshold of risk:

Children who are Wards of the state may be included in research that presents minimal risk 46.404 (50.51) or greater than minimal risk with a prospect of direct benefit 46.405 ( 50.52) of subpart D

Children who are Wards of the state may be included in research that presents greater than minimal risk with no prospect of direct benefit (46.406 (50.53) or 46.407 ( 50.54) only if the IRB determines and documents that such research [meets certain conditions]

This revelation is disconcerting. One should bear in mind that Justina’s parents have no idea what the DCF is doing to their daughter.

Except now new evidence in a personal, secreted letter from the girl to her parents is particularly disturbing. During one of their supervised visits, Justina allegedly passed her parents this letter:

“They hurt me all the time push me all the time and more,” the purported note from Justina Pelletier says. It also says “[they] do not let me sleep vary [sic] much.

“Hury [sic]!”

The Blaze sought more information about the contents of the note, released a few weeks after the daughter passed it on, including why the image of the letter was cut off at the top. Another report contends that the authenticity of the note needs further confirmation, although no one should prejudge that the Pelletier parents would forge a note to shame the state of Massachusetts to.

Whether the recent evidence made available to the public is true or not, the dire health conditions of the confined daughter and the distraught parents should not continue, and local activists are still mobilizing and pressuring the state legislature to intervene in turn and effect Justina’s release.

However, MassResistance.org has reported ongoing frustration with the political establishment, both Republicans and Democrats. House Minority Leader Brad Jones does not support HD 4212 because the bill violates the state’s separation of powers, plus the fact that the current legislative language is inappropriate. Any motion from representatives to press government agencies to respect the rights of parents and patients hardly constitutes a breach of separation of powers. MassResistance then posted that Rep. Fattman (R-Sutton) did not support the bill, either, and cited him as calling the bill “illegal and unethical”. The site is now focused on turning the opinion of Democratic leaders.

Regarding resistance from state lawmakers to introduces a bill on this matter, readers should note that some representatives suggest working directly with the governor or with the DCF in Massachusetts and its Connecticut counterpart is the better means of helping Justina and her parents.

“The quote was from one of Rep. Fattman’s staffers who telephoned the MassResistance office. However, MassResistance Executive Director Brian Camenker has informed Fattman’s office that the group would be willing to publish a clarification by Rep. Fattman if he wishes.”

US Senate candidate J Mark Inman issued this statement:

It saddens me that Massachusetts can unilaterally remove agency and freedom from a human being and remove a human child from a family solely on the opinion of a pseudo-science called psychiatry. If there is no cause for alarm other than the lofty opinion of a select few pseudo-tower doctors, then there is no cause for the state to remove agency. How a family chooses to treat their child's illness is their decision as a family unit informed by the opinions of the doctors of their choice. In this case, there should be a voluntarily use of a combination of C.B.T. and psychemetric therapy to determine if her illness is psychosomatic or not. How is that Obamacare working for our rights as free persons? News flash: it isn't. 

From a state agency taking a different medical stance on a child’s health, then usurping parental authority over a child, to the stalling from the governor and state legislature to end this year-long stalemate, the residents of the Commonwealth should demand not only answers but a moral resolution which returns Justina Pelletier back to her parents’ custody.

The Pelletiers should not have to wait. Free Justina now!


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter@ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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