Meet Justina Pelletier, The Religious Right's Next Campaign
For the last several months, Glenn Beck has tirelessly focused on a case involving a young woman named Justina Pelletier who was diagnosed by one set of doctors at Tufts Medical Center as having a condition known as mitochondrial disease, for which she had been receiving treatment. At one point, Justina became ill and ended up at the Boston Children's Hospital to see her longtime gastroenterologist, who had switched hospitals, when doctors there determined that she did not, in fact, have mitochondrial disease but was rather suffering from a somatoform disorder, which is "a mental disorder characterized by symptoms that suggest physical illness or injury."
Justina's parents disagreed with the diagnosis given by Boston Children's Hospital and sought to discharge their daughter but the hospital refused, instead informing them that an allegation of medical child abuse had been filed against them. At that point, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families got involved, taking custody of Justina, placing her under psychiatric care and limiting her contact with her parents.
That set off a long and on-going legal battle between Justina's parents and the state and while the case has been heavily covered in the local media, few outside of Glenn Beck have been paying much attention to the story. Beck continues to focus attention on it daily and last week, Justina's father appeared on his television program in violation of a gag order, for which he is now facing contempt charges.
Those were the latest developments until, suddenly, a bunch of Religious Right groups got involved in the fight yesterday, including Patrick Mahoney, who was deeply involved in the Terry Schiavo fight, and Personhood USA, as the two groups announced that they would be protesting outside the Suffolk County Juvenile Court during a hearing that was scheduled to take place regarding Justina's case.
On top of that, Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver just as suddenly announced that he was the Pelletier family's legal counsel and his organization made this case its top priority as Staver began making the rounds promoting it on Fox and elsewhere.
Why, after months of total silence and literally no interest, did several Religious Right organizations suddenly and collectively begin to care about this case, all on the same day?
Well, as Beck explained on his radio program today, last week an unnamed billionaire benefactor of his The Blaze network saw the program featuring Justina's father and was so outraged by it that he vowed to hire a legal team and turn this into a crusade:
As Beck said, the "new attorney" hired by this benefactor would be appearing on his program tonight to discuss the latest developments in this case ... and that attorney is none other than Mat Staver:
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, will appear on the Glenn Beck TV Show today from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to discuss the ongoing story of Justina Pelletier, who was taken from her parents and is currently being denied medical treatment.
So that at least seems to explain why, all of a sudden, a bunch of Religious Right groups have gotten involved in this complex and frequently confusing case: because some unnamed billionaire is footing the bill for them to do so.
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