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After 16 months of “being held prison by the bureaucracy of the state of Massachusetts,” a teen girl has been reunited with her family, officials confirmed on Wednesday.
Justina Pelletier’s case has generated much interest worldwide over the fact that she effectively was “state-napped,” that is, government officials on their own initiative took custody of her in order to impose their health plan on her, and her family.
According to officials with Liberty Counsel, which has worked on her behalf for months, Justina was reunited with her family Wednesday morning, after leaving the Susan Wayne Center for Excellence to return to her home with her parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier, and her three older sisters.
The date of her release from what has been described as a long-running “psychological experiment” had been announced only a day earlier.
At the time, Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said, “The family looks forward to putting this 16-month nightmare behind them. Justina and her family now begin the process of healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
As WND reported, Pelletier, 15, has been in the headlines in recent months because she was taken forcibly from her parents after they took her to Boston Children’s Hospital more than a year ago. There doctors after a minutes-long visit decided to treat her differently than physicians had been treating her for months. They banned other opinions and wouldn’t let her go home with her parents.
The Pelletiers had been visiting with Justina in Connecticut frequently since she was moved there several weeks ago. She has been under care from Tufts Medical Center, the same place she received treatment before her long ordeal began with Boston Children’s in February 2013.
According to Liberty Counsel, before February 2013 Justina attended a private school in Connecticut and was actively involved in figure skating competitions. She was being successfully treated at Tufts Medical Center for Mitochondrial disease.
But when she developed flu-like symptoms, her doctor recommended that the family take Justina to see a gastroenterologist who had been treating Justina at Tufts before he transferred to Boston Children’s Hospital.
Instead, she was told there to see Dr. Jurriaan Peters, a BCH resident who was only seven months out of medical school, who decided he would change her diagnosis to Somatoform Disorder.
He did not contact any of Justina’s previous expert physicians and refused to allow her previous physician to examine her, Liberty Counsel said. BCH psychologist Dr. Simona Bujoreanu, who was researching Somotoform Disorder using federal taxpayer dollars, confirmed the Somatoform diagnosis after only 25 minutes with Justina, likewise without contacting other physicians, LC said.
Boston Children’s Hospital then told the parents of the new treatment plan and told them to sign it, even though it specifically would prevent them from seeking another opinion. The move would leave Justina in a psychiatric ward.
“It also mandated that the Pelletiers never speak to Justina about her medical treatments or diagnosis and never speak to the doctors responsible for her care without prior approval. The Pelletiers declined and sought to discharge their daughter and return her to Tufts Medical Center. BCH called in the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF), charging the parents with ‘medical abuse.’ Justina was removed from their custody at an emergency hearing and had remained imprisoned by the state until [Wednesday],” LC reported.
The legal team got involved after Lou Pelletier spoke to the media – in violation of a state-imposed gag order – about the case.
Months of legal fighting, including the filing of a Writ of Habeas with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, preceded Justina’s release.
“The legal filings, public pressure, and lots of prayer ultimately resulted in Massachusetts DCF reversing his opinion 180 degrees. This is a wonderful day,” Staver said. “The result is a miracle!”
WND reported recently that there also is a proposal in Congress because of this case that would block federal tax dollars from states with policies that “conflict with personal liberty.”
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, who is considering the bill, at the time joined with the nonprofit legal advocacy group Liberty Council, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and Republican state Rep. Marc Lombardo to call for the release of Pelletier from Massachusetts state custody to the care of her parents.
“I find certain state policies involving individual and personal medical decisions to be disconcerting,” Stockman said. “It is my firm belief that we should not provide federal dollars, through NIH grants, to states that maintain policies that conflict with personal liberty.”
Stockman said taxpayer dollars also “should not be spent on research performed upon people without their consent.”
In Massachusetts, under state law and the diagnosis from Boston Children’s, Justina’s case could have become a subject of research with or without her permission.