Millions of people head home each Christmas season. Some can’t make it due to a whole variety of reasons. But imagine that the reason you couldn’t be home, with your family, for Christmas was because the government took you from your parents, all over a dispute over medical care. That is exactly what happened to Justina Pelletier.
Four years ago this week, the Boston Globe published a story detailing the circumstances that led to then-14-year-old Justina being taken from her parents in what has since been described as a medical kidnapping. The article must have given Justina’s parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier, some hope that their daughter would be home for Christmas. That did not happen; Justina would not return home for another half-year.
Justina had long been treated for mitochondrial disease, a metabolic disorder. In late February 2013, Justina’s parents took her to Boston’s Tufts Medical Center from their home in Connecticut. Justina had long been under the care of a team of doctors at that hospital, but the doctor leading that care team wanted her to see her pediatric gastroenterologist, who had recently relocated to Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH).
When she arrived at BCH, rather than sending her to her gastroenterologist, doctors diagnosed Justina with a psychiatric disease known as somatoform disorder. BCH doctors said her symptoms were all in her head. The Pelletiers strongly disagreed. BCH subsequently conspired with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to strip custody of Justina from her parents.
That began a nearly year and a half of captivity for Justina. In that time, Justina missed multiple holidays at home. Not only that, as punishment for father Lou Pelletier going public with his daughter’s plight in early 2014, BCH wouldn’t even let the Pelletiers visit Justina on certain holidays.
CRTV host Michelle Malkin has made the Pelletiers’ plight the subject of a two-part episode of “Michelle Malkin Investigates.” The MMI team documented the alleged torture that Justina went through and the ingenious system she devised to get word of her mistreatment to her parents.
“I’m just so happy I’ve got my daughter back. I’m more angry because she has to start all over.”@MichelleMalkin Investigates this heart-breaking story that can happen to ANYONE!
— CRTV (@CRTV) December 4, 2017
It ended up taking a village of conservative activists, dedicated legislators, and advocates in conservative media to free Justina from state captivity. It shouldn’t have had to.
Imagine, as a child, having to spend a Christmas away from your family, all because the government sided with a powerful institution over your parents — all over the care necessary to treat a disease your longtime doctors have diagnosed you with. That was Justina’s reality.
Justina was freed in mid-2014, but hers is far from the only case of medical kidnapping, where state government intercedes in disputes between hospitals and parents, often to detrimental effect. Michelle Malkin and CRTV are exposing the horrors of this abominable practice. For the parents and children still being torn apart by government, that may be the greatest Christmas gift of all.
Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC.