by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
It has been more than 4 years since the most infamous case of medical kidnapping in the United States occurred when the state of Massachusetts, together with Boston Children’s Hospital, seized custody of then 14-year-old Justina Pelletier over a medical disagreement.
The story exploded across mainstream and international media after her father Lou Pelletier courageously defied an unconstitutional gag order and risked prison to tell his family’s story. With heavy hitters in the national media like Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee and Dr. Phil giving them exposure, as well as an army of advocates by their side, it still took 16 months to get their daughter home.
Read past stories about Justina Pelletier .
Justina, to this day, still suffers physical, mental, and emotional trauma from all that happened to her during her captivity.
At the time, most of the public thought this story was an anomaly – an egregious abuse of power by an out-of-control hospital and bureaucracy that was stunning in its tyrannical reach, but still the exception to the rule.
Few ever dreamed in their wildest nightmare that this was common, everyday practice all over the United States and other countries. Silence and shame surrounded the families to which this kind of thing happened, and it may well be that the explosion of stories that have come out in the years since then may be attributed to Lou Pelletier’s boldness in speaking out, opening the floodgates for others to come out of the shadows and speak up.
What have we learned since then? Has anything changed?
Unfortunately, although we have learned a great deal about what goes on behind closed doors in hospitals, Child Protective Service agencies, and family courts, precious little has changed since then.
“Justina’s Law” Under Consideration, Public Invited to Write to Legislative Committee
Currently, the Massachusetts legislature has the opportunity to consider a bill that would prevent parents from being charged with abuse or neglect for following the advice of a different licensed medical or mental health provider. The bill, however, falls short of protecting those parents seeking more holistic or alternative forms of treatment if the practitioner they choose is unlicensed.
An earlier version of the bill submitted in 2015 failed to gain traction. Perhaps this time legislators will take more interest in the common sense measure which would secure the right (which parents have always believed they had already) to seek a second medical opinion and to direct the medical care and treatment of their children.
HB900 , known as “Justina’s Law,” is before the Joint Judiciary committee. HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) has stated that they are in support of the bill . The text of the bill reads:
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 119 be amended to add the following new section 51I:
51I: (a) A parent or legal guardian shall not be charged with abusing or neglecting a child’s need for medical care if:
(i) the parent or legal guardian has sought medical care for the child from a licensed medical or mental health provider;
(ii) the licensed medical or mental health provider has made a diagnosis;
(iii) the licensed medical or mental health provider has prescribed a lawful course of treatment; and
(iv) the parent or legal guardian is following or willing to follow the recommended course of treatment.
(b) No mandatory reporter, as defined in Section 21 of this Chapter, shall file a report of abuse or neglect under Section 51 of this Chapter based solely on a parent’s or legal guardian’s decision to follow the recommended treatment of a licensed medical or mental health provider. A parent or legal guardian has the right to follow the advice and treatment plan of a licensed medical or mental health provider over a contrary opinion or recommended treatment plan of another licensed medical or mental health provider when the decision does not involve immediate life-threatening conditions. Even in the case of life-threatening conditions, the decision of the parent or legal guardian to follow the advice or treatment plan of a licensed medical or mental health provider shall not be overridden unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
The committee is accepting written correspondence for a short time following the Judiciary committee hearing, which occurred Monday, May 8.
No deadline was given, but it was stated that during the hearing that it would be for a “very short window” of time.
The Senate members on the committee are Senators William M. Brownsberger , Chair, Sonia Chang-Diaz , Vice Chair, and members John F. Keenan , Cynthia S. Creem , Patricia D. Jehlen , and Richard J. Ross .
The Representatives on the committee are Representatives Claire D. Cronin , Chair, James M. Cantwell , Vice Chair, and members Colleen M. Garry , Carole A. Fiola , Daniel J. Hunt , Michael S. Day , Rady Mom , Paul Tucker , Bud Williams , Sheila C. Harrington , and James J. Lyons, Jr. 
Contact information may be found for each of the legislators by clicking on their names. Letters may be sent to the Senators at this address: 24 Beacon St., Room 504, Boston, MA 02133, and to the Representatives at this address: 24 Beacon St., Room 136, Boston, MA 02133.
Wards of the State Used as Medical Guinea Pigs
When Justina Pelletier’s story came to light, the world learned the horrifying reality that children who are wards of the state, including foster children, may legally be used in the United States as medical lab rats or guinea pigs in drug trials and medical research without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
We learned that Boston Children’s Hospital and other hospitals around the country engage in this type of practice that would ordinarily be thought of as something only the Nazis during WWII would have done.
A 2014 article by Matt Barber at WND  exposed the written policy of Boston Children’s Hospital that:
“Children who are Wards of the State may be included in research that presents greater than minimal risk with no prospect of direct benefit.”
On page two of the policy, BCH defines “Ward” to include “foster children, or any child under the control of [DCF – Department of Children and Families] in the state of Massachusetts.”
It works like this: Boston Children’s Hospital needs guinea pigs and the Massachusetts DCF provides them.
Using children for medical research, obviously, is not something that the hospital presents to the public.
On their website , President and CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital Sandra L. Fenwick boasts:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best children’s hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children’s is a place where we can write the greatest children’s stories ever told.
The story that too many parents tell is that the hospital is responsible for the DCF seizure of over 400 children per year from their families, more than 1 a day. We learned that locals have dubbed Boston Children’s Hospital as “the home of the parentectomy.”
Boston Children’s Hospital is not alone. Children’s Hospitals and other hospitals across the nation regularly funnel children into Child Protective Services for the lucrative foster care and adoption industry and medical research.
Health Impact News did their own investigation into using children for medical research and the link to child social services removing children from parents’ custody in order to conduct these drug trials, and we found that this is not only common practice but legal in the United States.
An elderly veteran recently told us that he sometimes hears doctors and nurses speaking in the halls of hospitals, apparently thinking no one is paying attention, saying that they “think it is time for a parentectomy” and making plans to call Child Protective Services. A former Children’s Hospital chaplain told us that he saw his hospital take children away from innocent parents on a regular basis.
A federal version of “Justina’s Law” was introduced by Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota and other lawmakers in 2014.(See source .) That bill would have prohibited federal funding for medical research on wards of the state. That bill went virtually unnoticed by the majority of federal lawmakers.
Medical Kidnapping of Children in the U.S. is an Epidemic
Since starting the Medical Kidnap division of Health Impact News two and a half years ago in October 2014, we have exposed hundreds of stories of families whose children have been taken over medical disagreements or seeking a second doctor’s opinion.
For every story that we publish, there are dozens more that don’t reach publication.
The sheer volume of stories that we receive on a daily basis demonstrates that the problem is much more widespread than most people have realized.
We have worked with families from California to North Carolina, from Michigan to Texas, and everywhere in between, and some common themes have emerged.
There are certainly states where there seems to be more corruption than others, but there are problems with medical and governmental overreach in all 50 states. Here are some patterns that we have discovered that are common to many of the families we have interviewed:
1. Parents can take their child to their pediatrician or Children’s Hospital for a relatively minor injury or problem, and end up losing their children to the state.
They are blindsided by the events that follow their child being seen by a doctor.
Child Abuse Specialists, employed by many Children’s Hospitals, often tend to “find” abuse where there is none. They are not adequately trained in fields such as neurology and orthopedics, and frequently fail to do differential diagnoses to discover if there is a medical reason for the child’s injuries.
Child Abuse Specialists are also acting like law enforcement officials doing criminal investigations of parents accused of abuse, but with no training in forensic evidence or criminal investigations.
2. Parents are routinely told by social workers, attorneys, and judges that “the Constitution doesn’t apply in Family Court.”
This is wrong. The Constitution applies to all American citizens.
However, its principles, such as due process and freedom of speech, are frequently ignored within the system.
Lou Pelletier was threatened with jail time for “violating a gag order.” If the parents have the money and ability to appeal to higher courts, the higher courts tend to support the Constitution, but most families do not ever make it to those courts.
3. Innocent parents tend to talk freely to social workers and law enforcement, knowing that they have done nothing wrong. They often do not insist upon a warrant or court order for social workers to enter their homes (as secured by the 4th Amendment) because they feel that they have nothing to hide.
They do not realize that the officials they have allowed into their home usually have an agenda, and that agenda is about seizing their child, not about the truth.
4. Social workers, both in Child Protective Services and in hospitals, routinely deceive courts and parents in their efforts to seize children away from parents.
Our Medical Kidnap reporters see evidence on a daily basis of lies and deception by social workers about the families in our articles. In a landmark case out of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2017, federal judges struck down social workers’ “Right to Lie” appeal.
Judges Reject Claim That Social Workers Didn’t Know Lying In Court to Remove Children Was Wrong 
Social worker whistleblowers have told us that a good social worker does not last in the system and that the system is all about protecting itself, and not children.
See some of Tammi Stefano’s (National Safe Child Show) interviews with (or about) social worker whistleblowers:
5. Judges frequently never see exonerating evidence held by the parents in these cases.
Sometimes the court-appointed attorneys fail to present such evidence. Other times, judges take the word of CPS attorneys and social workers when they object to such evidence being presented.
Frequently, parents have reports from 8 to 12 medical experts, with experts waiting in the wings to testify on their behalf, only to find that the judge will only hear the testimony of the Child Abuse Specialists who accused the parents in the first place.
There is often clear medical evidence that the child has a true medical condition, but the only testimony allowed to be heard is that of the doctor labeling the injuries as abuse – the same doctor who failed to uphold their medical responsibility of testing for other causes before diagnosing abuse.
6. Transparency is virtually non-existent in family courts.
Whereas accused murderers and rapists have the benefit of checks and balances to ensure the integrity of their criminal trials, parents may be given the family court equivalent of a death sentence – termination of parental rights – with nothing that ensures the integrity of the process.
In most states, any facade of accountability amounts to the foxes guarding the henhouse, while corrupt officials veil their misdeeds behind a cloak of “confidentiality” – laws which are twisted to protect the guilty, not the innocent.
7. Children are more likely to be abused in foster care than in their own homes.
In fact, they are at least 6 times more likely to be abused, raped, molested, or killed in foster care than if they had been left in their own homes.
Foster Care Children are Worse Off than Children in Troubled Homes – The Child Trafficking Business 
8. Actual evidence of wrongdoing by parents is not required in many family courts, and in many states, hearsay is legally permissible as evidence.
This hearsay sometimes comes from social workers who may not be telling the truth, and even from disgruntled family members or neighbors. Children are ripped from their families and adopted out to strangers without there being any real proof that the parents have done anything wrong.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Three years ago, most of the public was largely unaware that medical kidnapping existed. Justina Pelletier’s story was the first to begin the public exposure of the dark underbelly of the Child Protective System and the collusion with hospitals around the country.
When we began publishing stories of similar nightmares experienced by other families, the primary comment was – “There must be more to the story.”
Now, there is a great deal more awareness that this kind of thing can, and does, happen, and we don’t hear that comment nearly so much. Thanks to the hard work of hundreds of dedicated activists who speak out, share stories on social media, lobby legislators, write letters, and make phone calls, a growing number of the American public is aware that legal and medical kidnapping exists and is a threat to innocent families.
A few lawmakers in a handful of states have been working on legislation, such as Justina’s Law in Massachusetts. Representative Kelly Townsend  in Arizona and Senator Alan Clark  in Arkansas have led the charge in their states to introduce bills and amendments to bills to help protect families in their states.
There is still much to do.
Since Justina Pelletier was seized from her family over a medical disagreement, thousands of children have been taken from their families. Some have been returned home after difficult and traumatic battles. Some parents are grieving the loss of children who have been adopted out, often to complete strangers. Still, others continue in the fight of their lives for their family’s survival.
More laws need to be changed. The oppressive Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, handed to then-President Bill Clinton by Newt Gingrich’s Republican-led Congress which was signed into law and provides financial incentive from the federal government to states to take children from their homes, needs to be repealed.
The system is broken beyond repair.
Child abuse is a criminal act, and when it does actually exist, it needs to be addressed by law enforcement. In criminal court, there must be evidence of wrongdoing, not simply allegations, before the accused is punished.
Children need their parents. It is a basic human need. Before a child’s inherent human right to a relationship with their parent is ended, there must be a compelling reason to take that away. That reason should never be a financial benefit for anyone, or supposed benefits of medical research. A child should not lose a parent unless that parent is truly harmful to the child. All other excuses simply devastate and traumatize the child further.
Justina Pelletier – 4 years later. What has changed? Not nearly enough.
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