Conn. Legislators Sign Letter Asking State Agency ‘Not to Assume Custody and Care’ of Justina Pelletier

Mar. 5, 2014  6:30pm  Liz Klimas

Some Connecticut legislators are taking a preemptive step in the case of Justina Pelletier, a teen who is at the center of a custody battle in Massachusetts, asking a state agency “not to assume custody and care.”

JJustina pictured at 13 years old is now 15 years old. For more than a year, she has been out of her parents custody after they disagreed with a medical diagnosis and doctor's recommended care at Boston Children's Hospital. (Image source: Facebook)

Justina pictured at 13 years old is now 15 years old.  For more than a year, she has been out of her parents custody after they disagreed with a medical diagnosis and doctor’s recommended care at Boston Children’s Hospital.  (Image source: Facebook)

“In the face of legal opposition and media scrutiny, it now appears that Massachusetts DCF wants to back away from this case and restore Justina to the custody of her parents,” the letter penned by Sen. Joe Markley said.  “We see no reason for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to involve itself in a case which has been so thoroughly examined to so little effect.  This distressing story should end with Justina at home in the care of her parents, and we hope you will not delay that resolution.”

Markely told TheBlaze Wednesday afternoon that in less than 24 hours, 15 other legislators have signed the letter to DCF Commissioner Joette Katz.  He said he’ll be taking signatures until close of business Thursday before delivering the letter.

The letter asks that if custody of Justina Pelletier is transferred to the Connecticut agency, which would put her back in her home state, that it not go through a second, lengthy bureaucratic process.

Since Feb. 14, 2013, Justina Pelletier has been in Massachusetts DCF custody after her parents were accused of over-medicalizing her.

The 15-year-old was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by a doctor at Tufts Medical Center and was treated for her related symptoms for several years.  In Feb. 2013, her parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, took her to Boston Children’s Hospital, at the recommendation of other doctors, to be seen by a specialist after she experienced some complications with the flu.

While at Boston Children’s though, there was a disagreement over her original diagnosis.  Doctors at BCH said Justina had somatoform disorder, a psychological condition, and recommended treating her accordingly.  The Pelletiers disagreed with removing all of her treatments for mitochondrial disease and tried to have her discharged to Tufts.  That’s when the state DCF stepped in.

Since then, the teen’s parents have appeared in court numerous times, trying to get custody and control of Justina’s medical care back.

In the latest court decision, a judge transferred Justina’s medical care back to Tufts and lifted a gag order that had been imposed since Nov. 2013.  While Dr. Mark Korson at Tufts, who diagnosed Justina, will be on her medical team, the Boston Globe noted that other specialists, including a couple from Boston Children’s Hospital, will be treating her as well.

Though those representing the Pelletiers saw this decision as a victory, one of the Pelletier’s lawyers noted that the custody issue will be addressed at the next scheduled hearing on March 17.  The Pelletiers wish to have custody restored, not transferred to the Connecticut DCF.

The letter penned by Sen. Markley and signed by others is addressing this potential situation.

“If this should happen — and there seems to be reason to think it’s likely or at least a possibility — we think better not to go through a long process,” Markley said.

If custody were transferred to Connecticut DCF, Markley said legislators would likely meet with the agency’s commissioner to discuss their rational, procedures and timeline going forward, not wanting it to take another 13 months as it has in Massachusetts.

The Connecticut letter being circulated among legislators before it is sent to the state’s DCF commissioner echoes legislators in Massachusetts who last week jumped on board the “free Justina” campaign.