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Wheelchair-bound Justina Pelletier, the 15-year-old girl effectively “state-napped” for 16 months by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Boston Children’s Hospital, appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday to relate the tale of her medical mistreatment and imprisonment and urge Congress to pass “Justina’s Law,” a bill to defund involuntary medical research upon children in state custody.
Justina’s case generated much interest worldwide after government officials on their own initiative took custody of her in order to impose their health plan on her and her family. Justina was reunited with her family June 18.
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.”
Part of that process is pursuing passage of “Justina’s Law.”
Liberty Counsel, which began representing the Pelletiers in late February and worked diligently in the courts to free Justina, arranged for her testimony today, along with other meetings with legislators this week.
By invitation of Rep. Michele Bachmann, Justina told her story to more than 70 members of Congress at the Republican Study Committee, receiving a standing ovation and a pledge by 13 members to cosponsor the bill.
Current law permits children deemed wards of the state in DCF’s custody to be subjected to unproven medical treatments, even without direct benefit to the child.
“Children are not guinea pigs and should not be treated as such,” said Staver. “Funding such treatment creates a perverse incentive for hospitals to claim ‘medical abuse’ on the part of parents, and for states to rubber-stamp such claims and remove children from their loving parents and turn them over to the hospitals, all with federal tax dollars.”
As WND reported, Justina, who was already being treated at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder, was taken forcibly from her parents after they took her to Boston Children’s Hospital more than a year ago to be examined for pneumonia-like symptoms. There doctors, after a minutes-long visit, decided to treat her differently than expert physicians had been treating her for months. They banned other opinions and wouldn’t let her go home with her parents.
Their decision was based on a changed diagnosis to Somotoform Disorder by a BCH resident who was only seven months out of medical school. He did not contact any of Justina’s previous expert physicians and refused to allow her previous physician to examine her, Liberty Counsel said. A BCH psychologist 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 where she was being treated previously. 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 [last month],” LC reported.
Justina received no education while she was under state custody, lost her ability to walk, was not allowed to attend church, could only see her family once a week and was mistreated by the State of Massachusetts.
“Justina’s Law is not about politics,” Staver said. “It is about protecting families and children from financially conflicted medical researchers and state overreach.”
Bachmann, who introduced the bill, said there are other hospitals that involve children in risky rsearch, solely because they are wards of the state.
“We know that this is happening all over the country in all 50 states, that children who are designated wards of the state, are having medical research done on them that may not have any direct benefit whatsoever to the child, and, in Justina’s case, she was made paralyzed by this medical research,” said Bachmann.
As for Justina, “she’s now free, and the purpose of Justina’s Law will be to make sure this never, ever, ever, happens again. Justina hit it out of the park when she spoke to numerous members of Congress today to ask them to support Justina’s law,” said Bachmann.
Justina’s testimony today before the RSC was only the second time in the committee’s history that a non-RSC member has addressed the committee. She hopes to testify before the entirety of Congress in September.