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Parents fight to regain custody of daughter after hospitals disagree on diagnosis

By Debra Cassens Weiss

The parents who lost custody of their 15-year-old daughter last year amid a medical disagreement about her diagnosis are back in court today.

Lou and Linda Pelletier say they lost custody of their daughter after taking her to Boston Children's Hospital because of what appeared to be a bad case of the flu, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. The girl had been treated for mitochondrial disease at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, but doctors at Boston Children’s questioned the diagnosis, Lou Pelletier says. The new doctors said they suspected the girl suffered from a condition where the patient suffers from pain without an underlying medical cause.

The Pelletiers didn’t agree to the treatment plan suggested by the new doctors, and hospital officials filed a report with state child welfare officials saying they suspected abuse or neglect. Lou Pelletier spoke to the media about his concerns about his daughter’s medical treatment, leading to another issue in the case: whether the comments violated a gag order.

The case stems from the concept of “medical child abuse,” the Boston Globe (sub. req.) reported in December.

Liberty Counsel will appear on behalf of the family, according to a press release. A motion filed by the couple's lawyers seeks to lift the gag order and opposes civil contempt for violating the gag order. The motion argues that Lou Pelletier is “exercising his First Amendment right to inform the press about the miscarriage of justice done to his daughter and his family.”

Background Photo Credit: Kasia Broussalian © 2015