When Government Takes Your Child: The Pelletier Case

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Air Date: April 1, 2014

Host: Jim Schneider

Guest: Mat Staver

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Mat Staver is the Founder, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel an international non-profit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. Mat is also the Director of the Liberty Center for Law and Policy.

To begin, Jim had Mat comment on the following issues:

–Some VCY America listeners may have received something called, An American Community Survey. Mat has a paper on this survey available at 1-800-671-1776.

–Mat has been asked to represent Timberlake Christian Schools to correct the record regarding allegations coming forth from the media that an 8 year old girl has been asked to leave the school because she dresses like a “tomboy”.

–Followup regarding the sex survey distributed at Northland Pines High School in Wisconsin.

In January of 2013 Justina Pelletier (then 14 years old) developed flu-like symptoms and could not eat. She had been diagnosed by a doctor at Tufts Medical Center in Boston with a mitochondrial disease. At the advice of this same doctor she was taken to Boston’s Children’s Hospital because Justina’s gastroenterologist had moved to that hospital.

After taking her to BCH she was seen, not by her gastrointestinal doctor, but by a doctor who had been out of medical school for 7 months. He did not consult the treating physicians, did not look at other medical records and in the end, he disagreed with the diagnosis. He felt the problem was not physical but mental. A psychologist was brought in and it was determined that Justina had a somatoform disorder (it’s all in her head) despite the fact that all possible physical conditions were not ruled out.

A new one-page plan-of-treatment was presented to Justina’s parents stating that the medical treatment she’d had before would be discontinued, they could not speak of anything medical in the presence of Justina and a second opinion could not be sought. Instead of signing off on that document, her parents asked to discharge her so that she could be taken back to Tufts Medical Center. BCH responded by calling in the Department of Children and Families and they took jurisdiction of the case.

In February of this year, the Pelletier’s were put under a gag order because the Boston Globe was starting to do some investigating. The Pelletier’s eventually couldn’t stand it any more and spoke to the national media. As a result, DCF wanted to hold Justina’s father in contempt. DCF filed a motion but days later, they backed off the gag order and contempt charge. The following Monday a judge approved the dismissal of the gag order and contempt charge and also approved a new agreement allowing Justina to go to Tufts Medical Center for treatment.

That was 3 weeks ago yet today, Justina has yet to be seen at Tufts Medical Center. In response, Liberty Counsel has filed a motion for contempt. Last Tuesday the judge issued a ruling saying that Justina will remain in the custody of DCF and that the burden of proof is on her parents to prove that they can have her back.

More Information

To encourage Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to investigate this case and intervene on behalf of Justina Pelletier call:

617-725-4005—Boston Office
413-784-1200 Springfield Office
202-624-7713—D.C. Office

White House



Tweet to #FreeJustina

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