Justina Pelletier’s Law Would Stop Federal Funding of Dangerous Medical Research on Foster Children

National   |   Liberty Counsel   |   Jun 28, 2014   |   10:16AM   |   Washington, DC

Liberty Counsel Action is proud to support “Justina’s Law,” a bipartisan bill that prohibits federal tax dollars to be used for medical experimentation on a ward of the State.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) joined with Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Tom Marino (R-PA), and Jim McDermott (D-WA), to introduce “Justina’s Law” in a response to the case of Justina Pelletier.

In February of 2013, acting on the advice of her physician, Lou and Linda Pelletier took their daughter, Justina, to the ER at Boston Children’s Hospital (“BCH”) to see Dr. Flores, a gastroenterologist who had been treating Justina before transferring to BCH approximately one month prior.

justinapelletier6Dr. Jurriaan Peters, a BCH resident who was only seven months out of medical school, saw Justina and decided he would change her diagnosis from Mitochondrial disease to Somatoform Disorder. He did not contact any of Justina’s previous expert physicians who had treated her for years and refused to allow Dr. Flores (the doctor she came to see) to see her or examine her issues. BCH psychologist Dr. Simona Bujoreanu confirmed the Somatoform diagnosis after only 25 minutes with Justina, likewise without contacting other physicians. Dr. Bujoreanu is researching Somatoform Disorder under an NIH grant. Read the complete timeline.

BCH and many other hospitals have policies in place that permit a ward of the state to be used in medical research that presents a greater than minimal risk, even if there is no prospect of any direct benefit to the child.

Justina became a ward of the state and was placed in a psych ward. Justina remained imprisoned by the state for 16 months. In the last year, during Justina‘s struggle, the Boston Globe has uncovered at least five other instances of families having their children taken by BCH under the same or similar circumstances as the Pelletiers.

“Whether it is one child or thousands, it is our duty to guarantee that children are kept safe from harm while in the custody of their respective states,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann. “Sixteen months ago, Justina was a figure skater. Today, she cannot stand, sit, or walk on her own. It is unconscionable what happened to Justina, and we must do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again. Removing federal funding from such experimentation is an important first step,” Bachman concluded.

Mark Trammell, Director of Public Policy, Liberty Counsel Action, said, “The purpose of Justina‘s Law is to protect children, plain and simple. As evidenced by the bill’s bipartisan support, it is not about partisan politics; it is about advocating for the health and safety of children.” Trammell continued, “It is irresponsible and inexcusable to subject foster children, or any child who is a ward of the state, to medical research that presents a greater than minimal risk of harm to the child with no prospect of direct benefit. These are children, made in the image of God; they deserve to be treated that way, not like human lab rats.”