Finally some good news for Justina Pelletier, the teen from Connecticut who has been the center of a nightmarish custody battle between her parents and the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families. They had been called in to assert authority last year by Boston’s Children’s Hospital when Lou and Linda Pelletier objected to the change of diagnosis and lack of continuing medical care necessary to Justina’s health. For over a year, Justina has been incarcerated in the psychiatric ward at BCH because doctors there decided the physical symptoms she has suffered most of her life were not due to previously diagnosed and treated Mitochondrial disease but were rather caused by somatoform disorder, a mental disorder. Justina’s father violated a gag order imposed upon him by a judge last November to describe in horrific detail some of the officious and cruel actions taken by medical personnel in order to “cure” her of the physical manifestations that her “exaggerated belief” that she had Mitochondrial disease brought upon her body, including humiliating her and causing her extreme physical discomfort as a means of behavior modification.
Lou Pelletier was facing possible criminal charges for violating the order, more good news for the family as the motion for holding him in contempt of court was dropped today, along with the fact that Justina will be transferred back to Tufts Medical Center and her longtime physicians. Why this hearing called for today when the court had set it for much later in March? It seems very likely this due to the amount of public pressure being brought to BCH and DCF ever since a father determined his daughter’s life was more important than the threat of jail time. After Lou made several appearances on Glenn Beck’s television and radio programs, along with nationwide press coverage of the story, the public-at-large was moved to action. In fact, so much pressure was made that the foster care facility in which Justina was to be transferred to last month declined to take her, citing too much public attention as their reason. Because the case received that attention, two Massachusetts state legislators have been working to get DCF to release Justina back to her parents through a resolution before the legislature.
Rev. Patrick Mahoney, the family’s spokesman, cautioned it is not over yet after the hearing today. There is still another court hearing on March 17th and DCF continues to maintain custody of Justina. But additional public awareness, public pressure to have the court do the right thing by Justina and her family will hopefully come to a positive resolution.
At the very least, Justina will once again receive the medical and nutritional treatments and care she desperately needs. One hopes that by the time the next hearing concludes, Justina will be returned to her family and that her body will once again have the strength to stand and walk into those loving arms.