Pelletier Family Gives Powerful Testimony in Support of Justina’s Law

getPart (1)By: Bharani Padmanabhan – July 3, 2015

Valley Patriot readers may be familiar with the 17 month long ordeal suffered by young Justina Pelletier at the hands of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the huge effort it took from 100,000 ordinary people from across this great land who came together to finally rescue her and return her to the loving arms of her parents and sisters. The VP was present when Justina finally returned home almost exactly one year ago on June 18th, 2014. 

Today Justina’s father Lou and elder sister Jennifer returned to Massachusetts to testify at a public hearing at the State House in support of House Bill 1469 – An Act called Justina’s Law – filed by Marc Lombardo, Representative (R) for Billerica and supported by James Lyons, Representative (R) for Andover.  Besides the members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, in attendance were also Senator Linda Dean Campbell (D) of Methuen and Keiko Orall, Representative (R) for Lakeville. 
Lou and Jennifer were accompanied by Attorney Philip Moran who ended up representing the family in court last year after Judge Joseph Johnston refused to allow the parents to be represented by the lawyer they chose – Dean Staver from Liberty Counsel. 
getPart (3)
State Rep, Jim Lyons (R-ANDOVER) listens to testimony

Committee Chair Senator William Brownsberger (D) of Belmont invited testimony from Lou Pelletier who testified eloquently about the sheer horror his daughter and his family went through for 17 months at the hands of DCF and Harvard’s Children’s Hospital and the purgatory they were suddenly cast into by Dr Alice Newton without any recourse. Lou also testified that the parents were stripped of their family rights because Harvard’s Children’s Hospital disagreed with a diagnosis made by Tufts Medical Center. The parents were condemned as abusive because they believed Tufts’ diagnosis was correct and that Harvard’s was incorrect. They lost their child for that effrontery. 

Senator Brownsberger then invited testimony from Jennifer Pelletier who gave wrenching testimony about what her little sister went through at the hands of the Government and Harvard’s Children’s Hospital. Jennifer testified that she was Justina’s ice skating teacher and that Justina was doing great at ice skating till she ended up at Harvard’s Children’s Hospital and now is unable to even stand by herself. 
Representative Lyons then elicited testimony from Lou Pelletier about the actual circumstances of his daughter being taken away from her parents one Thursday afternoon and how the child did not know for 2 whole days what had happened and how she was denied her basic civil and human rights including family love, religious freedom and her right to an education. Lou also testified clearly that he called 911 to seek help from Boston Police to prevent Harvard’s Children’s Hospital from kidnapping his precious child but that Boston Police refused to help a powerless family from Connecticut fight a Harvard Hospital and never ever did so.  
Representative Lyons then invited Attorney Philip Moran to testify. Attorney Moran put on the record that parents have the absolute right to choose treatment decisions in the best interest of their child, that parents have the right to choose a non-Harvard hospital over a Harvard hospital and that they should not be punished for doing so by having the state of Massachusetts take their child away and thrown into foster care. He hoped the Committee would pass this Bill so no other family ever has to go through what Justina and her family were put through. 
Representative Lyons brought testimony to a close by stating that it was ironic that DCF spent so much money and time fighting the Pelletiers when they claimed a lack of funds led them to lose track of children genuinely in trouble. 
There was loud applause from the standing-room only audience when testimony concluded. Many advocates for the rights of disabled people came out to speak with the Pelletiers as the Hearing moved on to other Bills. 
H1469 currently seeks sponsors from the Massachusetts Senate. 

20 Responses to "Pelletier Family Gives Powerful Testimony in Support of Justina’s Law"

  1. katyh   July 4, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    Wasn’t it Boston Children’s Hospital and not Harvard’s Children’s Hospital?

    • Shpilkus   July 4, 2015 at 11:36 PM

      Yes, Boston Children’s Hospital is part of Harvard University, and BCH carries the same unwavering arrogance as the parent. It appears that they are referred to as Harvard for clarity.

      • LeeAnne Bye   July 5, 2015 at 1:52 PM

        It would appear the reference to Harvard is merely one of arrogance. However the arrogance of Harvard and BCH is surpassed by none! Having visited this “ivory tower” they definitely operate with a self opinion that they are above all others. Having been to UPMC, Children’s Hospital as well as University of Pa ( also Ivy League) I can assure you no one surpasses the arrogance of Harvard and BCH in their self estimation. It was an eye opener for us as I can also assure you CHOPhila and Children’s of Pittsburgh are both much more humble and much more supportive of families as well as opinions of other medical experts!

  2. Mary Bissell   July 4, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    Thank you for covering this. This is a great idea for a bill.Everyone should suggest it to their own state reps. Representatives Lombardo and Lyons are fantastic for their support of Justina Pelletier.

  3. Chris Powell   July 4, 2015 at 9:11 PM

    I’m so glad that Justina’s family has the opportunity to be a part of a bill that would protect children and their families from such horrific wrong-doing. I am so incredibly angry that this ever happened and I know it is happening to other families as well.

  4. Patrick Sargent   July 5, 2015 at 4:52 AM

    Justinas law should be in every state. This needs to stop for now and forever.

  5. Anthony DiSante   July 5, 2015 at 2:26 PM

    This case was horrifying. I’m glad to see they’re still fighting, and not letting these thugs get away with this. But… what is Justina’s Law?

    • kelli-anne hawkins   July 5, 2015 at 2:48 PM

      Shown Here:
      Introduced in House (06/26/2014)

      Justina’s Law – Prohibits the use of federal funds to conduct or support treatment or research involving a ward of the state in which the individual’s health is subjected to greater than minimal risk with no or minimal prospect of direct benefit.

    • KarlaL   July 5, 2015 at 7:48 PM

      There are actually two “Justina’s Laws.” This article is referring to a MA bill, which would protect the rights of parents to follow the care and treatment recommendations of a licensed medical provider even if another provider disagrees.

      Link to the MA Justina’s Law:

      The other Justina’s Law was introduced into the U.S. House to prevent federal funds from being used to conduct questionable research on children who like Justina were taken from their families and are wards of the state. One of the Boston Children’s Hospital doctor’s who was instrumental in diagnosing Justina with somatization disorder (the diagnosis which her parents disagreed with), removing her from her family, and placing her in a locked mental ward, was conducting federally funded research on somatization disorder in children. This is a gross conflict of interest.

      • guest   July 9, 2015 at 9:54 AM

        I wonder if this bill goes far enough. It should include that the parent has the right and final say in what treatment *if any* they choose for their own child. Good examples would be if child has cancer and child is clearly deteriorating (dieing) with the poisonous chemo and radiation, the parents should have the final say whether to continue or even to try “natural” treatment – or just take them home and no treatment, no horrible side effects leading to inevitable death (death whether with or without chemo). Another would be if doctor wants to put child on psych drugs (which is proven to create or increase suicidal thoughts and urges in children and young adults) and parent disagrees with use of these drugs. Thank you for posting the link to copy of the Bill.

  6. kelli-anne hawkins   July 5, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    @anthony disante

    Introduced in House (06/26/2014)

    Justina’s Law – Prohibits the use of federal funds to conduct or support treatment or research involving a ward of the state in which the individual’s health is subjected to greater than minimal risk with no or minimal prospect of direct benefit.

  7. Denise   July 14, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    I contacted DCF to inquire about my child support payments going into a Direct Deposit account offered by the DOR of our state. Mother’s were being charged 1.50 per withdrawal, only allowed to withdraw $200 per day. The DOR brochure sent to child support customers, mostly mothers, specified that “you could go to a branch” and to avoid paying a charge. The bank was JP Morgan. I tried go ogling a branch. There was no branch. My JP Morgan/DOR card expired. I called DOR and said the number for JP Morgan refused to allow me to speak to anyone because my card expired. Meanwhile 600 from DOR went into that expired account. DOR would do nothing, nor child support. They sent me in circles. To this day, I never received that 600. I called the DCF for help because that 600 impacted my son’s best interest. They did nothing! The agencies in our state need to be accountable! All agencies report to the Governor! The buck has to stop for accountability! Additionally, the Governors’ office aides need to be accountable, as well. When constituents call these agencies, there should be action, obviously for relevant reasons and the level of seriousness, rather than being talked down to, or with an attitude of dismissiveness. I was horrofied and embarrassed the way Justina and her parents were treated by dcf, hopefully this never happens.

  8. Denise   July 14, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    After many complaints statewide it was finally changed. I also mentioned this to former Treasurer Steve Grossman about using an in-state bank for these types of transactions. Former Treasurer, Steve Grossman said that is absolutely right, he made changes regarding using in-state banks for business with Massachusetts.

  9. julieannmiller   July 19, 2015 at 8:01 AM

    The Pelletiers are heroes – each one of them – Lou, Linda, Jennifer, Jessica, Julia and Justina – for their patience and courage during their ordeal that began Feb. 10, 2013, and continues for them as Justina struggles with the results of lack of proper medical care at the hands of an arrogant catch-22’d system.

    Every citizen should call on their state senator to support this legislation and promote new legislation to fix this terrible mess!

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  11. Justina P Rocks   September 29, 2015 at 7:14 PM

    Thank you to the entire Pelletier family. It was awful what happened to your beautiful, ice skating daughter and sister.

    This was a huge conflict of interest and I hope the Dr. that medically kidnapped Justina is put in jail. That doctor did this on purpose and should lose medical license.

  12. GB   October 16, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    I had a very bad experience at the Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) early this year when I brought my son for an emergency visit. A radiology fellow made a diagnosis that my son had viral infection with ultrasound scan in the ultrasound room without check the immunization record and symptoms. As an experienced PhD level imaging scientist, I knew from the very beginning that the viral diagnosis was ridiculous and I disagreed immediately since no ultrasound scan can make viral diagnosis. Luckily, we were discharged after being confined in the treatment room for several hours as they cannot find any evidence to support the viral diagnosis. This wrong diagnosis caused several hours delay in the treatment. I would also like to remind the readers of this post that parent should look at the bills from BCH carefully since BCH may charge for something your child didn’t receive at the BCH and some tests you didn’t agree.

    Although I believe that there are many good doctors at BCH who take good care of children in need, there are also bad ones who are arrogant and even lack the basic knowledge for their profession. Instead of BCH accuses parents for “medical child abuse” as in the Justina Pelletier case, the state authority should investigate the abuses by the BCH.

    I sincerely hope this Justina’s Law can stop such ridiculous practice by the BCH.

  13. Meg Merchant   January 31, 2020 at 6:43 PM

    Several Drs from BCH nearly killed my son in the ICU. When he succumbed to the meds they gave him off label, they had no idea what was wrong. They were looking on Pub Med for possible diagnosis. That was 6 years ago. The trial is set for May of 2020. They’ve since done the same thing to two other children and say “they didn’t die”. My son didn’t die either but he will never be the same as a result of their negligence.

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