Bill filed in MA State House to free Justina Pelletier!
This past Friday, April 4, bill HD1412, written by MassResistance, was filed in the Massachusetts Legislature. It will free Justine Pelletier from state custody immediately and return her to her parents' custody. It is a simple and unambiguous solution to a situation that has become a national nightmare.
The goal is to have Justine back in Connecticut with her family for Easter -- the end of next week. This could theoretically happen very quickly. But everyone's help (even outside Massachusetts) is needed.
|The battlefield will be here between now and Easter!|
Passing a bill like this ought to be a "no-brainer." But unfortunately in the Massachusetts State House it's not. As usual, the politicians are full of fear and inertia. There is a disturbing reluctance to get involved, a stark contrast to the people across the country wringing their hands over this.
But as a famous US Senator once said, "When I feel the heat, I see the light." We must make that happen on Beacon Hill!
National outrage over girl being taken from her parents by the state
Justina Pelletier's shocking story has caused enormous outrage around the country and across the political spectrum. This nightmare needs to stop now.
Justine, a 16-year-old girl from West Hartford, CT, was being treated for a rare genetic disorder last year at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. At one point, a doctor from Boston Children's Hospital in Boston examined her and decided that she instead had a mental disorder. When her parents and the Tufts doctors disagreed, Children's Hospital and the Mass. Department of Children and Families (DCF) took her into state custody and put her in a psychiatric ward, where she has been for 14 months. It is outrageous.
|Left: Before being taken by the state, Justine was very athletic. Below: After being taken by the state, she's confined to a wheelchair.
A hostile Superior Court judge has repeatedly refused to release her. The judge even put a "gag order" on her parents. The parents are now only allowed to see Justina for an hour each week, and are not allowed to talk to her new doctor, according to her father. Since Justina has not been getting proper medical treatments, her health has deteriorating terribly, according to reports. There is fear that she may even die.
On Feb. 24, 2014, there was a hearing in Boston where the family's lawyers were attempting to get Justina back from state custody. The judge would not budge. The emotion was so intense that Justina's mother collapsed in the hallway outside the courtroom and had to be taken to an ambulance.
Attempts by well-meaning pro-family groups haven't worked
Pro-family groups from around the country and even conservative politicians have been trying for months to help Justina. There have been petitions, rallies, prayer vigils, press conferences, appearances on national TV shows, calls for investigations into DCF, and endless venting on radio talk shows. So far none of this has worked. There is now talk about possible court appeals, lawsuits, and even funding cuts by Congress.
Justina and her family have waited too long. We must get her home by Easter. The time has come for action.
|Above and right, supporters of Justina stood outside the courthouse in downtown Boston all day during February 24, 2014, hearing.
This approach WILL get it done.
The Legislature has the ultimate authority to act on this. It has the constitutional power to free Justina. And it could get it done very quickly - if it chooses to.
Most bills take months to work their way through the Legislature. But in fact, a bill can get passed in as little as one day. It happens more frequently than many people realize. For example, a few weeks ago the Legislature wrote, filed, and passed an anti-"upskirting" bill all in one day, after an SJC court decision came down that offended the Legislature. And there are many other examples.
But it takes the will to do it. That's where all of us come in.
Fear and inertia in the State House
When we started this process at the State House, even we were surprised at how reluctant so many politicians -- even Republicans -- are to touch this issue. Democrats are afraid of crossing the Governor, who apparently supports the DCF's actions. Republicans are afraid of antagonizing their leadership, which isn't interested in rocking the boat over this. Politicians in general are afraid of offending judges. And then there's the fear of angering certain DCF special interests.
"It's an unpleasant situation, but let it work its way through by itself," seems to be the sentiment in the State House.
|Rep. Lenny Mirra (R-West) agreed to file the bill.||
Getting this bill filed at all wasn't easy. Rep. Lenny Mirra (R-West Newbury) said he'd file it "by request" -- which means that a constituent wants the bill filed but the rep is reluctant to file it as his own. Luckily, the constituent in this case is Lonnie Brennan, an outstanding pro-family activist and friend of MassResistance who runs the VoteCoreValues political website and was determined to see it through, or it might not have made it. Even then, it took two days to get the bill filed.
It gets down to the same old story: Citizens must make legislators MORE afraid of them than they are of the leadership and special interests. That's how things get done!
HOW TO HELP GET JUSTINA HOME BY EASTER!
We don't have much time, so we must get started immediately. Everyone can get involved on some level, even if you don't live in Massachusetts.
There are 40 senators and 160 state representatives. They need to hear your anger and outrage. (see below)
We are creating a special Free Justina status page on our website. It will have all the current information on the bill and also a link to the list of all 200 reps and senators showing where they currently stand on this.
1. Can you go to the State House on Monday? (Or another day this week?) We need people to go to the State House and personally visit the offices of the reps and senators. And then get back to us exactly where they stand, so we can post it on the website. These personal visits are very important.
Handout to give reps and senators: The one-page text of the bill.
2. Call and email the reps and senators. This is very critical. And the ones who do not support Justina need to be contacted again. There cannot be too many calls and emails. And let us know what their response is.
3. Get the word out. Post this on websites and Facebook, etc. Call talk shows and get them to discuss this. Anything you can to spread the word. We will be posting and updating all the necessary information on www.MassResistance.org/justina
4. Regularly check our Free Justina Status Page. We will be updating it constantly during this week and next -- until she gets home! www.MassResistance.org/justina
5. Keep fighting. Don't give up.
LET'S GET JUSTINA HOME BY EASTER!
|This sign held outside the courthouse on Feb. 24 pretty much says it all.