Friday, 6 March 2009

Sarah Palin and the rights of children under state care

There is an ongoing lawsuit in an Alaska Superior Court seeking to stop the de facto forced medication of children under the state's care - foster kids, juvenile detainees - and children covered under state health programs with psychiatric medications. Named as defendants are the State of Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin and a host of officials with various state agencies. The suit was filed by Psych Rights, the Alaska-based mental health law project, which has vigorously fought the forced drugging of adults in the state's psychiatric hospital.

In 2006 Psych Rights succeeded in a lawsuit regarding the administering of drugs to adults in state psychiatric institutions against their will. In a historic and precedent-setting decision, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed that the forced administration of psychotropic drugs to patients is unconstitutional. The Court made this recommendation:

"In order to make informed decisions possible, the law requires treatment facilities to give their patients certain information concerning their situation and need for treatment, including advice about: their diagnosis; proposed medications, including possible side effects and interactions with other drugs; their medical history; alternative treatments; and a statement describing their right to give or withhold consent."

In February 2008, before filing the present lawsuit, Jim Gottstein wrote to Sarah Palin on behalf of Psych Rights:

"It is a huge betrayal of trust for the State to take custody of children and youth and then subject them to such harmful, often life-ruining, drugs. They have almost always already been subjected to abuse or otherwise had very difficult lives before the State assumes custody, and then saddles them with a mental illness diagnosis and drugs them. The extent of this State inflicted child abuse is an emergency and should be corrected immediately. Children and youth are virtually always forced to take these drugs because, with rare exception, it is not their choice. Psych Rights believes the children and youth, themselves, have the legal right to not be subject to such harmful treatment at the hands of the State of Alaska. We are therefore evaluating what legal remedies might be available to them. However, instead of going down that route, it would be my great preference to be able to work together to solve this problem. It is for this reason that I am reaching out to you again on this issue."

Gottstein got a mealy-mouthed answer to this letter from an agency head, but there's no indication that Palin ever saw the letter. There was no response from her office.

In his filing, Gottstein notes that over 4,500 Alaska children and teens were being given various psych meds under the state's Medicaid program. The filing consists of 73 pages and I'm not going to go into the fine details here.

What bugs me is that Sarah Palin and all the other co-defendants didn't accept Gottstein's offer to work together to resolve the matter and chose to defend a lawsuit instead.

Taking into account Gottstein's victory in 2006, I would say this is an open and shut case. Or is it?

Choosing to defend the suit says a lot about the defendants. They must see children under state care as not having the same rights as adults, if any, and hope to be able to continue the abhorrent practice of dispensing powerful drugs to an extremely vulnerable group without any form of consent.

It remains to be seen what status these young people will be accorded under Alaskan law.

Article about lawsuit here.
2006 Court ruling here.
Article about 2006 case here.
Present case filing here.
(It takes a while to load, be patient if you're curious)


Dianne said...

To be a child under the control of Sarah Palin must be a frightening experience. To be forced medication with no regard for the safety of the child and actual physical need for the medication is child abuse. By doing nothing, Sarah has chosen to be complicit. The last I knew, child abuse is a crime. It seems to run exceptionally rampant in Alaska and appears to have to Governor's support.

Yet another excellent post, Reg.

Lady Rose said...

I so wish there was some way to get her our of office NOW - my heart truly goes out to everyone in Alaska

sandra said...

This should be forwarded to Greta Van Susteren. I think the Scientology people have a suit against the manufacturers of Ritalin. They might be interested in this.

regina said...

I managed to lose a couple of comments by pressing the wrong button.

One was from Ennealogic, very supportive, and I would like to ask her to re-submit...

The other was not so positive. I went something like this:

"Children never had and never should have the same rights as adults."

I can't remember the exact wording.

Feel free to re-submit the precise comment.

Sorry for the mistake! If the comments turn up on my google mail I'll copy and paste the body of the comments later and all should be well.


Greg said...

I think I stumbled into the Palin Derangement Syndrome support group by mistake. It seems to me that you all would benefit from some of those psychiatric drugs.

Anonymous said...

As a physician, this is a very strange argument. Adults and children with mental illnesses should certainly be advised of the need and possible side effects of their medications, but they are also the very people that will not take medicine that is required for them to stay well. Try treating a patient who is manic without their medicine sometime. It would be an eye-opener for you. Try treating some with major depression who is suicidal and won't take their medication and their suicide will be on your conscience. There is some middle ground where patient's rights are heard, but allowing psychiatric patients to refuse their medicine is just not good judgement.

regina said...

Anonymous physician,

One thing is a few patients being suicidal or dangerously manic, another very different thing is a blanket policy of administering powerful drugs willy-nilly.

I can't believe that 4,500 young people in Alaska fall in those categories.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

Anonymous Physcian:"As a physician, this is a very strange argument. Adults and children with mental illnesses should certainly be advised of the need and possible side effects of their medications"

IF the Dr.s know the side effects of the drugs they are giving out! Elli Lilly did not divulge the comoplete side effects of Zyprexa until 2003 and then put warning labels on it in 2004 saying patients should be monitored for possible weight gain and high blood sugar. Even though the company, knew this since 1998!
And yet it is still one of their best selling drugs although it has harmed thousands and killed many!

Greg-Please go back to servants4sara and do take your kool-aid, we wouldn't want you to suddenly wake up from your make believe world of Whine!

Dianne said...

To the anonymous physician.....As the mother of a child who actually did need to be put on medication for his own safety, I understand. However, I have seen many, many children that have been put on medication simply to make life "easier" for the teacher, caregiver, foster parent, etc. It is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Anonymous physician, I'm wondering how many drug companies you are "camping out" with.

Dianne said...

And, then again, I have witnessed the drug salespeople courting the physicians, getting them to prescribe their drugs in exchange for vacations, bonuses, etc. Pharmaceuticals, doctors in their back's another big oil, if not worse. And, physicians out should be ashamed.

Gary said...

As defined by law, a child is a minor. Not able to make many decisions, including those about health care on their own. They are deemed not to be mature enough to make life and death decisions.

These children are under psychiatric treatment for a REASON. It's not like the state is force feeding kids medications for fun.

Having volunteered in this area, I know what kids who have issues are capable of. They can, and will, hurt themselves, and others.

As for "harmful side effects". Well hell, there are certain vitamins and supplements that can have "harmful side effects". Aspirin can have "harmful side effects".

I have crippling arthritis, and high blood pressure. It's a toss up which of those have the most dangerous "harmful side effects"

For men, that little blue pill can kill you, and for women, even something as basic as your birth control pills can kill you.

Even better, years ago, there was a tampon that was killing women. (toxic shock)

You're problem is you hate Sarah Palin, for what ever reason, and spend all day every day looking to feed and satisfy your derangement.

Quite frankly, you and yours need some serious psychiatric care for your Palin Derangement Syndrome.

If not, I fear you will need to be put on suicide watch when she becomes the next President of the United States.

Anonymous said...

RE: Dianne said: To be a child under the control of Sarah Palin must be a frightening experience.
And to be an "adult" suffering from PDS must REALLY suck.

Lindsay K. said...

Great Post Gary!

These people on here are so hate filled - they profess to be tolerant liberals but when it comes to a conservative woman and something against the feminist liberal establishment they no longer can think straight. It's incredibly sad that they will use anything they can to try and post hate!

What I will say is I have personally had experience w/ the above and it is the parent's decision - I'm not quite sure why this is Palin's issue when most states have laws in this regard.

Gov. Palin follows Alaskan law strictly and is a big proponent of the constitution - something I admire - if someone wants to challenge the laws that are already in place - they are welcome to do so - that is called democracy - imagine that!

The supreme court of AK can then make its decision and it did. Sounds like a nice democratic process to me.

PDS, BDS, now RDS are all alive and well because obviously people have such small minds and only time enough to hate... what a life you people must lead!

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

It is so sad that "Sevant's4palin" have nothing to do except troll blogs to defend their beloved narcissist! Keep drinking the kool-aid wouldn't want you to wake to reality...GINO will never be POTUs!
She will be in jail!
For all her GateS! Go bug people at hot air!!!!!!

regina said...

I know it's difficult help yourself, but don't feed the trolls, Crystalwolf...

Anonymous said...

I admit to suffering from Palin Derangement Syndrome and, yes, it does suck. But it's still far better than the alternative which is being terminally stupid.