Massachusetts lawmakers are getting involved in the Justina Pelletier case.
Justina has been in the custody of the state of Massachusetts for the past year after Boston Children’s Hospital accused her parents of over-medicating her. The Pelletiers and a Tufts University medical team believe she has mitochondrial disease. Boston Children’s Hospital doctors believe her illness is psychosomatic. Justina has now been denied treatment for her mitochondrial disease for over a year, and her health is reportedly suffering.
Since the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families seems intent on retaining custody of Justina, lawmakers have stepped in on her family’s behalf. State Reps. Marc Lombard and Jim Lyons, Republicans, have circulated a resolution to initiate the process of releasing her to her parents.
Here’s what Lombard had to say about the resolution.
“The self-stated goal of the Department of Children and Families is to strengthen the link between families,” he said. “Removing a child from her family is reserved for only the most egregious circumstances where evidence of malicious intent, negligence or the blatant inability to care for the child is present. No such findings are present in this case.”
Lyons added that Justina’s case is a problem of “conflicting medical opinions” and that the Pelletier family should not be punished for the medical community’s lack of consensus.
“The Department’s heavy-handed, unjustified interference with the rights of these parents is an example of what is wrong with this agency,” he said.
A representative for the Pelletier family announced more big news on Wednesday.
Justina will no longer be transferred into a foster care facility. At a Monday custody hearing, the presiding court decided to transfer Justina to the Shared Living Collaborative foster care facility in Merrimack, Mass. Shared Living declined to take in Justina, though, due to the national attention she will undoubtedly bring with her. She will remain at the Wayside Youth & Family Support Network in Framingham, Mass., where she has been staying for months.
Lyons and Lombard say their resolution has already been signed by 12 fellow lawmakers. The resolution will be brought up at the next meeting of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
The Pelletiers' next custody hearing is scheduled for March 17.