On Valentine’s Day 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families took into emergency custody then-14-year-old Justina Pelletier on account of the doctors at Tufts Medical Center and doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital collided over the diagnosis of her rare medical condition. But when medical egos and battles lead to a child being torn from her parents by judges ruling on dubious grounds, isn’t it time to confess something is seriously askew in society and even under the stethoscope?
Fox News recently summarized the more than a year-long custody catastrophe by explaining that Tufts was originally treating Justina for a rare mitochondrial disease affecting cellular energy production. When gastrointestinal problems complicated her ailments, Tufts’ doctors referred her to Boston Children’s Hospital. But the Boston doctors diagnosed her instead with somatoform disorder – a psychological condition that has no alleged physical origin.
Justina’s parents immediately rejected the new psychiatric diagnosis and let their grievances be known to the Boston medical personnel. But instead of the staff consoling and working with the parents, they called in the state, which in turn accused the parents of medical child abuse.
Justina was held captive for nearly a year in Boston’s Children’s psychiatric ward before being transported to Wayside Youth and Family Support Network facility in Massachusetts. In March, a juvenile court judge reprimanded the parents for verbal assault and abuse. But Justina’s parents cried foul, claiming the judge ignored Tuft’s standing medical testimony that their daughter’s diagnosis was in fact mitochondrial disease.
Fox further reported last week that, after being held for 15 months by the state of Massachusetts, Justina was moved to a facility in her own state of Connecticut. Ironically, that transfer came a day after her family was denied a visit with her in the previous facility on Mother’s Day.
Justina’s father told Fox News that the new facility was “only 15 minutes closer” than the Massachusetts complex and that it was “just a lateral move.” Her parents went on to say the move was “not at all meant as a step toward regaining custody,” which a judge will ultimately decide. They called the whole hospital-state fiasco with their child: “barbaric.”
Since the whole custody tragedy began more than 15 months ago, Justina’s parents have been granted only hourly visits each week. And throughout it all, Justina hasn’t attended school or church and, most heartbreaking of all, been kept from the security, safety and loving warmth of her own family, home and bed. Is it any wonder why her condition continues to deteriorate?
All Justina’s parents want now is that their beloved child be allowed to finally come home and celebrate her 16th birthday on May 24. Isn’t that the least the state could do, especially after all the family has been through?
My friend and former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, stated it well back in March: “What a shame when the government thinks that it knows better how to take care of the treatment of the daughter than the mother and father do.”
Huckabee further added, “There is something wrong when the government kidnaps children from their own family.” And I would add, there is something equally wrong when a situation like this prompts millions of other parents across the country to become paranoid about taking their child to the hospital for fear that a misdiagnosis could lead to the child’s abduction by the state.
The problem is that these medical mishaps with government intervention are becoming more common place. And do we really expect them to lessen when government has totally taken over the medical world via Obamacare?
If you think the federal government will never tell you what to do with your child’s health care, then remember passages like Section 440 and Section 1904 in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 under the heading: “Home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children,” which will provide (via grants to states) for home visitation programs by government agents to educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.
Imagine how that health-care provision might play out as state officials walk into your home, invoking their values and beliefs upon your parenting and children.
It’s time for government to stop overreaching into our family and dictating everything from where children can pray, what children will learn, what children will eat, what medical treatment they’ll receive and where children will go to school.
Government needs less of a role in running our family and more of a role in supporting parents’ decisions for their children. Children belong to their parents, not the government. And the parents ought to have the right and government support to parent them without federal mandates, education or invasion in our homes.
That is why many of our early founders shared a sentiment that can be summarized in the statement, “That government is best that governs least.”
Or as Huckabee put it, “I know this: I know that mothers and fathers raise better children than governments ever will.”