April 7, 2014 ( – A Massachusetts Court awarded “permanent” custody of a 15-year-old Connecticut girl to the state on Tuesday, prolonging a 13-month battle over who is best to care for this young woman.  

Last February, Justina Pelletier’s parents took her to Boston Children’s hospital to be treated for the flu.  Justina was previously diagnosed and was being treated for a rare condition called Mitochondrial disease at Tufts.   The Boston Children’s doctors disagreed with Tufts diagnosis and summarily remanded Justina to the Department of Children and Families for care, effectively removing her from her own parents and family. 

For the last 13 months, Justina’s parents have been fighting to bring her home and to restart treatment for Mitochondrial disease, treatments which Boston Children’s stopped. 


“She needs to be home,” Justina’s father said. “She is mentally, and more importantly physically, dying under the care of the state of Massachusetts.” 

The hospital, state, and court system have all failed Justina and her parents, and this family has been ripped apart as a result.  

So why should this matter to pro-life Americans?

Though the term “pro-life” is sometimes associated with radical activism, hateful speech, harmful judgment, and political factions, those are not correct descriptions of most people who affirm life.  “Pro-life” simply means in favor of supporting, protecting and enhancing life. 

I think it is understandable why many pro-life Americans focus their attention on the unborn.  Abortion, which kills a child once every 25 seconds, is the leading cause of death in America.  Abortion procedures are violent, gruesome, and inhumane.  The ramifications of abortion on the living are numerous, including emotional distress and illness, physical disease and challenges, suicide, relational strife, divorce, and severe problems among surviving family members.  Abortion impacts every person and every family in the country in one way or another.  It is the preeminent tragedy and issue of our day.  

Yet though the term “pro-life” is often associated with those of us working to protect unborn children from abortion, most life-affirming Americans’ concerns go beyond the womb.  We are concerned about babies, toddlers, teenagers, adults, and the elderly.  We want to help and assist people, of all ages, races, and conditions, to experience abundant life in a community of compassion, support, and love. 

To be “pro-life” is to be concerned for a teenager who is being unlawfully kept from her own family without proper medical care.  Justina has received no education, sparse contact with her family, virtually no contact with friends, and no direct spiritual support for 13 months.  Does it sound like a prison?  If so, what is her crime? 

A person who seeks to protect and improve life for all desperately wants to see Justina returned to her own family, to be returned to a community of compassion, support, and love.  We want her to have life and have it abundantly.  We want her to have proper medical care according to her proper diagnosis, and to have the freedom to be educated and rejoined to her friends.  

All of us who claim to be pro-life should be rallying around this young woman and her family.  Are we concerned with the unborn?  Certainly.  Are we also concerned with a young woman who desperately needs protection, help, and support?  Absolutely.  That is what being pro-life is all about.  

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the co-founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven organization dedicated to rescuing babies and families from abortion through technology and grace.


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