Turning parents into criminals when they just say "no" to drugging their kids

Panic in Detroit

This cannot be happening.

That’s got to be a mother’s first thought when she’s informed she has to make this completely irrational choice: her child must submit to a drug therapy chosen by authorities, or her child will be taken away.

It’s outrageous, shameful, and hard to believe, but here in the land of the free you’re free to make whatever health care choices you like for your child, as long as your choices conform to the judgment of low-level bureaucrats.

Crossing the line

Two years ago, Maryanne Godboldo’s 11-year-old daughter Ariana began developing behavioral problems.

As any concerned mother might do, Maryanne took Ariana to a Detroit family center where doctors prescribed a psychotropic drug called Risperdal. But this powerful drug has daunting side effects. When Ariana’s condition worsened, family center doctors recommended that the girl be institutionalized.

As you can imagine, Maryanne wasn’t comfortable committing her young daughter to an institution unless it was absolutely necessary. So she sought a second opinion and found a likeminded doctor who began by weaning Ariana off of Risperdal.

Ariana’s condition soon improved under a regimen that combined alternative and traditional treatments.

At this point, Maryanne was probably unaware that she had just crossed a forbidden line. Rejecting FDA-approved drugs in favor of any sort of alternative therapy is completely unacceptable to small-minded bureaucrats who can’t comprehend any deviation from the plans they make for you.

Unaware of the arrogant mindset she was about to challenge, Maryanne told one of the clinicians at the facility where Ariana received treatment that she had weaned her daughter off of Risperdal.

In any logical society–certainly a society where people are free to make their own health care choices or where results are more important than dogma–this would have caused no problems. But that’s not the world we live in.

The clinician immediately reported the case to Child Protective Services. A CPS representative then contacted Maryanne with an ultimatum: Ariana would resume her original treatment. If Maryanne refused, her daughter would be taken from her.

Of course, Maryanne said no.

Busting in

Who’s to say what’s best for a troubled young girl? Would she be more likely to thrive at home with her mother in the familiar surroundings of her own home? Or would she do better in an institution, taking a drug that she clearly doesn’t tolerate well?

We’ll never know if Michigan authorities seriously weighed these questions.

This past March, when CPS agents and the police came for Ariana, Maryanne says she asked to see a warrant and none was given. So she refused to allow authorities in her home. What happened next, unfortunately, changes the focus of the story drastically. Maryanne was so distraught that she allegedly fired a gun. No one was hit, but the police retreated.

After a standoff that went on for 10 hours, Maryanne finally allowed the police into her home after everyone agreed that Ariana would be turned over to her aunt.

Instead, Ariana was taken to a psychiatric hospital. At this point, reports conflict. Ariana was either put back on her medication, or was not. It’s hard to believe that she would not be medicated–after all, that was the point in removing her from her mother. But local news in Detroit reports that she has not been medicated.

In any case, a judge recently reviewed the matter and ruled that there was no reason for Ariana to be medicated.

Which…if you’ve been following me so far…is all Maryanne wanted to do from the beginning–not medicate her daughter.

Of course, I’m not defending Maryanne’s alleged shooting at the police, but this disgraceful situation should never have been forced to that moment. There was clearly no need to question Maryanne’s decision to do what she felt was best for her daughter, no need for child services to intervene, and OF COURSE no need for police to attempt to forcibly break into her home. The fact that Ariana is not being medicated is an official admission to all of that.

Ariana and her mom still have a long way to go before the system is finished tormenting them for the “crime” of behaving like free people in a free country. Meanwhile, you can follow upcoming developments in their court cases on a website called Justice for Maryanne Godboldo (justice4maryanne.bbnow.org). There, you can also sign a petition to free Ariana, and contribute to help pay legal fees.

“Detroit mom released from jail in standoff over daughter’s meds” Doug Guthrie, George Hunter, The Detroit News, 3/30/11, detnews.com
“Girl in Detroit standoff not in immediate need of medication” Doug Guthrie, The Detroit News, 4/14/11, detnews.com

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