The plight of Justina Pelletier, a Connecticut teenager taken from her parents because physicians disagreed about her diagnosis, is a tragic web of events.
In February of 2013, acting on the advice of her physician, Lou and Linda Pelletier took their 15-year-old daughter, Justina, to the Boston Children’s Hospital emergency room (“BCH”) to see Dr. Flores, a gastroenterologist, who had been treating Justina before transferring to BCH approximately one month prior.
Dr. Jurriaan Peters, a BCH resident who was only seven months out of medical school, evaluated Justina and decided to change her diagnosis from Mitochondrial disease to Somatoform Disorder.
He did not contact any of Justina’s previous expert physicians who had treated her for years and refused to allow Dr. Flores to examine her issues. BCH psychologist Dr. Simona Bujoreanu confirmed the Somatoform diagnosis after only 25 minutes with Justina, likewise without contacting other physicians.
Justina then became a ward of the state and was placed in a psychiatric ward. She remained imprisoned by the state for 16 months.
Because of the efforts of Liberty Counsel Action, a nonprofit lobbying organization advancing religious and civil liberties, Justina has been reunited with her parents.
In response to Justina’s case, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) joined with Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Tom Marino (R-PA), and Jim McDermott (D-WA), to introduce “Justina’s Law.”
“Whether it is one child or thousands, it is our duty to guarantee that children are kept safe from harm while in the custody of their respective states,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann. “Sixteen months ago, Justina was a figure skater. Today, she cannot stand, sit, or walk on her own. It is unconscionable what happened to Justina, and we must do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again. Removing federal funding from such experimentation is an important first step,” said Bachman.
Liberty Counsel Action supports the bill that prohibits federal tax dollars to be used for medical experimentation on a ward of the state.
Publication date: June 30, 2014