Accusing Boston Children's Hospital of running a "psychological experiment" on a captive teenager, the parents and supporters of Justina Pelletier are contesting in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court the state's seizure of her custody.
A writ of habeas corpus was filed Monday, asking that she be brought before a court to determine whether or not there are grounds for state custody.
As WND reported, the 15-year-old was taken forcibly from her parents after they took her to Boston Children's, where 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.
Judge Joseph Johnston in Boston ruled March 25 that custody of Pelletier will remain with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families “until a future hearing” which, according to Liberty Council, will not occur before May 20.
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Just a day earlier, the state agency was accused of contempt of court for not following a judicially approved plan for treatment of the teen.
Liberty Counsel, which is representing Justina's parents, charged the girl "was essentially kidnapped by Massachusetts DCF after her parents took her to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) to see Dr. Flores, a physician who had treated Justina before at Tufts Medical Center for gastrointestinal problems."
Even though she had been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, which causes muscle pain and weakness, doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital said she had a mental condition and removed custody from her parents.
On Monday, Liberty Council said the petition was filed to a single justice of the Massachusetts court.
The petition and memorandum of law "requests that Justina be released from the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families and be returned to the custody of her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier."
"Massachusetts DCF has no right to hold Justina captive. This is unacceptable. Justina needs to return home,"' said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
The legal briefs argue that there is no authority for the state agency to have custody and that its actions are violating the constitutionally protected rights of parents.
For example, a required findings of fact never has been released, the brief argues. Nor has the juvenile court issued the determinations required to support state custody, the brief says.
"This case comes down to the simple fact that new doctors at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH), who had no experience with Justina, came up with a different diagnosis than her expert treating physicians at Tufts Medical Center," said Staver. "The state cannot take children from their parents when the parents make reasonable choices for their medical care. This case is outrageous.
"The psychological experiment of Boston Children's Hospital, under the sanction of DCF, has miserably failed. Justina has gone from a competitive figure skater to being confined to a wheelchair," said Staver.
Fourteen months ago, Justina was seized by Massachusetts DCF after her parents, at the direction of Dr. Mark Korson, took her to Boston Children's Hospital to see Dr. Alejandro Flores, a gastroenterologist who had previously treated Justina when he worked at Tufts Medical Center before he transferred to BCH.
Korson, chief of metabolic services at Tufts Medical Center, was Justina's primary physician who was treating her for mitochondrial disease. Instead of allowing Justina to see Flores, Justina saw Dr. Jurriaan Peters, a BCH resident only seven months out of medical school. He brought in Dr. Simona Bujoreanu, a psychologist who coauthored an article in which she contends that in up to 50 percent of children who present with physical complaints, the complaints are not physical but mental.
According to Liberty Counsel, without consulting with Korson or Flores, Bujoreanu rendered a diagnosis of Somatoform Disorder. Without a thorough review of her care, she opined that Justina's physical complaints were mental, not physical.
BCH then presented the family with a new treatment plan to discontinue all medical care and medications and which forbade any second opinions, Liberty Counsel explained. When the parents refused to sign the new treatment plan and requested that Justina be discharged so they could take her back to Tufts Medical Center, BCH called DCF, and DCF prevented the family from discharging Justina. Fourteen months later, DCF still retains custody of Justina.
WND reported recently that there also is a proposal in Congress that would block federal tax dollars from states with policies that “conflict with personal liberty."
Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, who is considering introducing the bill, 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 Thursday that taxpayer dollars also "should not be spent on research performed upon people without their consent."
A Liberty Council investigation revealed Bujoreanu diagnosed Justina Pelletier with Somatoform Disorder after only 25 minutes with the teen, without contacting other physicians.
Bujoreanu is researching Somatoform under a grant from the federal National Institutes of Health. Any ward of the state is subject to research being performed on them without their consent, even if the research is not primarily for the ward's benefit.
Sources have reported Justina has spent most of her time in state custody locked in a psychiatric ward.