Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Justina, Health, Love, Freedom

I'm the kind of  person who tries hard to see both sides of an issue.  I also recognize that some issues have many sides.  So with the latest news about Justina Pelletier (permanent custody being given to the state of Massachusetts), I want hard to believe that there is a side to this story I don't know. That the judge and child protective service folks are really acting in the best interest of this 15-year-old girl.  I don't want to jump on the Parental Rights, conservative Christian bandwagon just because they are involved in this case (though I certainly qualify as a parental rights advocate and conservative (to the liberal world) Christian).

It's very difficult to find any information about the case apart from the outrage that is all over the Internet. I do think this counts for something, but in the Boston Globe report on the latest ruling, they cite the judge on several reasons for his ruling.  One is that Pelletier's father was abusive to state officials, using expletives in the presence of his daughter.  Another is that he was unwilling to work with residential homes that Justina may have been sent to, even threatening to sue them.  The family seemed unwilling to compromise with authorities. They wanted sole, full custody returned to them or nothing else.  The parents are also accused of medical abuse and being unfit to care for their daughter.

Again, I'm trying to see the side of the state in this case, but regardless of their reasons for not giving a daughter back to her family, I feel they are not based on what is best for the child.

More and more I believe we live in a country that is so flip-flopped, so off course when it comes to using a moral compass.  It seems you can perform any number of abuses on your unborn child and get away with it, but once that child enters the world, you have less and less control over how you raise it.  Ridiculous things have been called child abuse, like not giving flu shots, spanks on the butt, and feeding your child a certain diet.  Authority over a child more and more seems to be in the hands of "experts"- doctors, child welfare officials, teachers, and other school employees.  You may do whatever you want to that child in utero, but once it is born, you begin to lose the ability to raise that child as you see fit.

Personally, if one of my children had been taken away from me for over a year, I would begin to lose my patience as well.  I would seek any means necessary to get my child back. No doubt I would be angry, frustrated, and use words I would not normally use.  I would be broken, hopeless, not myself.  The love of a parent is often irrational and emotional, and makes us act imperfectly.  As I have often heard, to truly love someone, you must hate everything that wants to harm them.  And hate makes us do things we would not otherwise do.

I find it interesting that the parents are charged with medical child abuse.  They made a regular trek to Boston from Hartford to have their daughter treated for what they call mitochondrial disease.  Her treatments were successful.  Upon visiting a different hospital, Justina was deemed to have a psychiatric disorder instead and has been deteriorating ever since.  She has been living in a psychiatric ward for over a year.  No friends, no family. School?  Who knows.  To me, this is child abuse.  Children shouldn't live in hospitals, particularly psychiatric hospitals.  Children should live in homes, with loving caregivers.  Surrounded by the familiar, the comforting.  Letting a 14 year old girl live in a hospital this long?  That is child abuse.

It gets me thinking of the longer and longer arm that modern health care has in our lives.  We are now legally required to purchase health care (or pay a penalty).  This traditional health care rarely covers "nontraditional"  services like visits to a naturopath or homeopathic doctor.  It doesn't cover supplements, it doesn't promote dietary changes in order to heal and achieve better health.  It makes an assertion that medical doctor's know best when it comes to our health.  It backs up Big Pharm and forces US citizens to buy into this medical machine.  I'm  not arguing the place of modern medicine in our lives, but another removal of personal choice- how we choose to care for our bodies in sickness and in health.

It begins to reach its arm into how we care for our children and their health.

It begins to assert that it knows more than we do, cares more than we do as parents.

This arm is not so much healthcare as it is, of course, our government.

Which has removed a child from her parents for what I consider dubious reasons.

Were the Pelletier's not following the USDA food pyramid in Justina's diet?

Were they using supplements instead of chemicals produced in pharmaceutical labs to treat her?

Are they overtly religious? More specifically, are they conservative Christians (what is now a derogatory term)?

Are these some of the real reasons for losing their daughter?

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I find this all highly suspicious.  And heartbreakingly sad.  The one who is losing in this case is Justina, the one the state is trying to "protect".

I hope this girl knows how much her mommy and daddy love her.  How hard they are fighting for her.

Like mama bears when their babies are threatened, I hope they don't back down.

Love is blind, it's true.  The love of a parent is not rational, it's raw. It's relentless.  Love rarely acts on fact. It is preternatural.  Love cannot, in many ways, be defined by one set of behaviors or feelings.  It is unpredictable.

I welcome your (respectful) feedback on this case.  Show me a side I don't see.  Tell me something I don't know.  But please, even if we disagree, pray for this family.