If you’re a parent, this story dealing with parental rights should concern you. It’s been quietly unfolding for the past year, flying under the radar of most of the mainstream press as many important stories seem to do.
Imagine yourself in this scenario: you’re the parent of a 15-year-old girl who’s much like any teenaged girl, with the exception that she lives with a disorder known as mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes a weakening of her muscles. She received the diagnosis from Hospital One for this disease, where she then gets treatment for it. Then she gets the flu, and gets to the point where she won’t eat and can barely walk. You take her to that hospital, and her doctor suggests you take her to one of his former colleagues at Hospital Two, which happens to be a children’s hospital. However, she never gets to see that doctor before another doctor steps in, claiming she doesn’t have mitochondrial disease, but in fact has a mental illness. Much to your dismay and disapproval, Hospital Two’s doctors accuse you and your spouse of “over-medicalizing” your daughter and pretty much declare that the docs at Hospital One didn’t know what they were doing. They stop giving her the medications she had been getting to treat mitochondrial disease, and confine her to the psychiatric ward of their hospital against her will and yours. You attempt to re-gain control of your daughter’s health care, but it’s to no avail. The state has stepped in. You’re being accused of being unfit parents because you disagree with Hospital Two’s diagnosis. Hospital Two and the state won’t let you take her home. You now can only see your own daughter for one hour per week during supervised visits. Hospital Two then transfers her to another facility- a residential treatment facility where the supervised visits continue. You watch your teenaged girl go from a young lady learning to live with her disorder to a weak, frail shell of herself confined to a wheelchair. Her hairline is receding…so are her gums. She needs her family but can’t be with them and she’s not being treated for her original disease. What’s more, a judge has ordered you not to speak of your custody battle to the media. For a year, you watch her waste away, fearing for her very life. You’re then told that she will soon be sent to a “farm” of some sort which to you sounds like a place where they send people to die. You decide to do what any good parent would do: you defy the gag order and tell your story to anyone who will listen. You’re then held in contempt of court, threatened with jail time or a fine. You have no money left after a year of battling a hospital and the state for custody of your sick daughter. Now what?
If only this were a scene from some horrible futuristic film, but it’s really happening to the Pelletier family of West Hartford, Connecticut. This is how young Justina looked in January 2013:
…this is what she looks like now:
If you choose , you can help to be her voice. Learn more details HERE, HERE and HERE. Justina’s father, Lou, will be interviewed tonight (2/20/14) on Megyn Kelly’s show on the Fox News Channel at 9pm Eastern time/ 8pm Central.