An American judge has awarded permanent custody of an ill teenager to state officials in Massachusetts in a case that divides doctors along physical-psychological lines.
The long-running, complex and emotional case of Justina Pelletier, 15, has played out on Twitter, Facebook and the media for months.
The Boston Globe reports that Justina, whose condition is deteriorating, will stay in state custody until her 18th birthday unless her parents can prove they can care for her.
But the Pelletier family claims the Boston Children's Hospital was "punishing and killing" their daughter.
The nature of Justina's illness is at the heart of the controversial case.
Slate.com reports that she was diagnosed years ago with a mitachondrial disease that had caused her trouble eating and walking.
During a bad spell in February last year, Justina was taken to Boston Children's Hospital to see a gastroenterologist but she has not been returned home since.
Doctors at the hospital diagnosed her with a psychiatric disorder similar to hypochondria.
A team from the Children's Hospital notified the State that it suspected the parents of medical child abuse.
The hospital then stopped her father from taking her home.
Slate reports that Justina has spent the last year locked in a psychiatric ward even though doctors disagreed whether her illness was all in the mind.
In a judgment this week, Judge Joseph Johnston said child protection officers should have been involved earlier and accused the Pelletiers of being abusive and sabotaging doctors' efforts to heal Justina.
“Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere,” Judge Jonston said in the ruling.
“Unfortunately, there has been not any progress by the parents.”
The Boston Globe reports that the Pelletiers, who have fought the hospital's holding of Justina since last year, are outraged and will continue to fight for Justina to be returned to them.
“Eventually, we are working on federal lawsuits to do with civil rights violations,” he said.
“We are just trying to determine which state to file them in. Obviously, as much as we are devastated, this is the corrupt, crooked court system. This shows the judge is a coward.”