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Justice for Justina: Was the State Right in Taking Her?

Justina with dog

I’ve been reading and hearing about the story of Justina Pelletier for some time now.  If you don’t know who she is it’s no surprise.  Her story has never been reported in the mainstream media to my knowledge.  I first heard about her plight on the Glenn Beck Radio Program on The Blaze Radio Network.

Her story first began in February 2013 after being rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital on the advice of her physician at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, when she had not been eating, was having trouble walking, presented with slurred speech, and was having trouble swallowing.

Her doctor, Dr. Korson had been treating Justina over a year for mitochondrial disease, which is a group of rare genetic disorders that impact how cells produce energy.  The symptoms that can result often are associated with the gut, brain, muscles and heart.  Dr. Korson, who had worked at Boston Children’s for 15 years, had wanted Justina to be seen by a gastrointestinal specialist, Dr. Flores, who had left Tufts to work at Boston Children’s Hospital.  So, it was suggested that Justina’s mother, Linda, transport Justina there.

justina and mom

It’s at Boston Children’s Hospital where Justina’s story began to take an odd turn.  Instead of being allowed to see the gastrointestinal specialist, the hospital informed the parents that they were taking a new course of action.  Justina had been evaluated by a psychologist shortly after arriving and determined that Justina was suffering from more of a psychiatric problem rather than a medical issue.  The psychologist, basically felt that it was the parents who were making her believe that she had a medical disease.

Justina’s parents were then told that she would be taken off of some of her medications and that a young neurologist, Dr. Peters, who had completed his medical training just seven months before joining Boston Children’s Hospital, would be taking the lead in her case.  Justina’s mother opened up to the neurologist and told him about the symptoms that Justina had experienced just weeks earlier.  Linda, Justina’s mother had also explained that Justina’s older sister had been diagnosed with the same affliction (mitochondrial disease) which is not uncommon for this disease to be found in a sibling.

The mother went on to explain that she had been seeing Dr. Korson at Tufts and that he had given Justina the mitochondrial diagnosis.  Dr. Peters disagreed with Dr. Korson’s diagnosis.  Dr. Peters wrote in the medical charts that he was concerned with the number of doctors that Justina had seen and the amount of invasive treatments that had been previously performed on Justina by her past doctors.  Doctors had removed Justina’s appendix and a long congenital band that they had found wrapped around her colon. Later on, following several colonoscopies, doctors had placed a permanent tube in her colon which would force a flushing of her system in the event of long-term constipation.

It was also felt by Boston Hospital that Justina’s mother had been “difficult” with some of Justina’s physicians in the past and that Justina had been taken to a number of doctor’s (doctor shopping).


When Justina’s parents would not comply with Boston Children’s new treatment plan and wanted to remove their daughter from the hospital so that she could be taken back to Tufts Medical Center, they learned that the State (Department of Children and Families in Massachusetts) had been contacted by Dr. Newton, who ran the hospital’s Children’s protection team at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Newton


Dr. Newton reported that she was troubled by a number of things as follows:


Namely, how the mother had demanded that Justina be given a feeding tube upon arrival (because she had not eaten for a period of time) when the hospital believed that she should be given an opportunity to try and eat on her own. 

Dr. Newton was also concerned with how Justina seemed more impaired when her mother was with her and also concerned by the number of hospitals that Justina had been seen at and the “complaints about their (the parents’) difficult personalities. 

Finally, Dr. Newton noted the number of medical surgeries she had received and indicated that the tube that had been permanently implanted was “severe and unnecessary.”

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has to date, prevented Justina from being removed from Boston Children’s Hospital once the hospital contacted them and made allegations of “medical child abuse.”

Other parents whose children were given the diagnosis of mitochondrial have also complained about similar incidents Boston Children’s reporting them to the Dept. of Children and Families.

On April 9, 2013, Justina was moved to a private room in the hospital’s psychiatric ward in the hospital.  She protested the move and even asked to see an attorney but was denied one.

I must say as a licensed psychotherapist and as a citizen of the United States, I am disturbed by many facts about Justina’s story.

First and foremost, what stands out in my mind is how this child was taken by the State from her parents for a prolonged period of time when she was clearly receiving medical care from a licensed physician.  What also seems clear is that her parents were following the doctor’s medical treatment plan and even took their daughter to Boston Children’s at his direction.  Yet, a hospital that had just begun treating her, apparently discounted all of the past doctors’ diagnoses and rendered her a victim of “medical abuse” by her parents.

Secondly, Boston Children’s Hospital is essentially accusing Justina’s past physicians of medical malpractice.  Logically, they are claiming that had the doctors not been incompetent then Justina would not have received the operations she received.  As a result, Dr. Newton at Boston Children’s has thrown Dr. Korson, a former Boston Children’s doctor, under the bus.

Thirdly, the psychologist, it appears made a diagnosis after only spending a short period of time with Justina.  A preliminary diagnosis is not uncommon.  However, because of the severe steps taken in removing Justina from her parents’ care, I would want to know if Dr. Korson or other past doctors were contacted, whether Justina’s past medical care/diagnoses were discussed between the psychologist and Justina’s doctors, and whether her doctors noted any behaviors by the parents that could have been considered a detriment to Justina’s mental or medical well-being.

Finally, why didn’t Boston Children’s Hospital release Justina to her parents’ custody after contacting the Department of Children and Families?  Would she have been in any danger medically if she had been released to her family?  She was under the care of a physician and the parents were apparently complying with her doctor’s orders. family of pelletier

Was she being psychologically abused? It was noted by the hospital that Justina’s parents were referred to a mental health provider in the past but Justina was not taken.  The Dept. of Children and Families would have had the authority to visit Justina and even remove her from the home at a later time if they determined that she was in any danger, either physically or mentally.

The lingering question on my mind is whether Boston Children’s Hospital is receiving any governmental funds for keeping Justina based on a removal order from a state run child protective service?

Today, on the Glenn Beck Program on TheBlazeTV, Justina’s father, Lou Pelletier, who is under a court gag order not to speak about Justina’s case, decided to speak out because he feels that “his daughter is dying.”

Lou is also claiming now that the psychological team at the hospital is abusing Justina by denying her proper medical treatment that the Pelletiers feel she needs.  Mr. Pelletier spoke about how his daughter’s condition is rapidly deteriorating before his eyes.

Mr. Pelletier also indicated that the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has never visited Justina’s home.  Perhaps this is because there are no other minor children living in the home to give them a reason for a visit.  However, wouldn’t it behoove them to look around for evidence to substantiate Boston Children’s Hospital’s allegations?  They may not find anything but they could at least look.

Glenn Beck asked how people could help Justina’s cause.  Lou suggested contacting the Governors of both Connecticut (presumably where the family resides) and Massachusetts and the Attorney Generals of both states, all of whom have the authority to intervene.  He also mentioned contacting President Obama because he has daughters himself.  However, I believe Mr. Pelletier knew that it wasn’t a viable option when he made the statement but rather a frustrated attempt at receiving any help at this point.

If you would like to donate to help Justina, because the Pelletiers are “broke,” according to Mr. Pelletier, you can donate to their 501 (c) (3) non-profit website at

It would be easy to ignore this case because it isn’t happening to you.  However, if you have children know that the next article could be about you and your children.  Please research this case on your own and take a Stand For the Truth!


Note:  Susan Knowles is an author, psychotherapist and former practicing attorney.  Her latest book, a politicalFreedom's Fight fiction, is entitled, “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember” available on    Her website is

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2 Comments on Justice for Justina: Was the State Right in Taking Her?

  1. Kay Blanding // 19 February, 2014 at 8:35 am //

    Justina has a sister and she is at home with her mom and dad. Justina is now
    in a wheelchair and has the same illness

  2. Bob Yoder // 30 March, 2014 at 3:11 pm //

    This case is very disturbing to anyone who is unfamiliar with either the family and/or the medical people involved, and the allegations have gone so far as to imply government-sanctioned kidnapping. Before we go shooting from the hip, so to speak, something bothers me that appears to have gone wrong right at the start, before Justina ever arrived at Boston Children’s; namely, if her doctor at Tufts (Korson) wanted her to see his colleague (Dr. Flores, a gastroenterologist), then why didn’t he (apparently) set up his patient with an office appointment? If indeed she was in shape to go in her mother’s car, why was she even admitted to the hospital (Boston Children’s) at all? And most especially, did he ever communicate about his patient with his colleague? If not, why not?
    A genetic disorder, if one exists, should its presence not be provable?
    There are too many unanswered questions here for anyone from the general public to weigh in on intelligently. Clearly, the dynamics of this case have gotten out of hand to a frightening degree, and it is clearly the responsibility of the medical community to step up to the plate in a responsible fashion. Perhaps the state medical board could help.

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