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Justina Pelletier freed

Anyone who's followed the case of Justina Pelletier knows that she's been through a horrific ordeal as has been her parents. This afternoon, a judge ordered her to be released to her parents' custody:

Justina Pelletier is coming home.

A Massachusetts judge ordered the 16-year-old Connecticut girl, who was taken from her family by child welfare advocates more than a year ago, to be returned to her mother and father effective Wednesday. The ruling caps a long-running medical custody dispute that began when two highly-respected Boston hospitals clashed over the girl's diagnosis. The case sparked national outrage, and led Lou and Linda Pelletier, of West Hartford, Conn., to wage a bitter legal battle.

It's about time. In fact, it's long past time. The truth is that this situation shouldn't have happened. This is what happened:

The case began when the girl's parents disagreed with a psychiatric diagnosis given by Boston Children's Hospital and said they wanted their daughter returned to her original physician at Tufts Medical Center, who had previously treated Justina for mitochondrial disease, a group of rare genetic disorders affecting cellular energy production. The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families moved in, claiming Justina was the victim of "medical child abuse."

Tufts Medical Center is certainly qualified to make difficult medical diagnoses. To have the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families overrule Tufts' diagnosis is outrageous, which is why a national outrage quickly erupted. The American people will always trust a doctor over a bureaucrat, as they should.

Mat Staver, of the Liberty Counsel, which battled the Bay State bureaucracy on behalf of the Pelletiers, said the ruling handed down by Massachusetts juvenile court Judge Joseph Johnston was well-deserved.

"We are thrilled that Justina will finally be returning home," Staver said in a statement. "The family looks forward to putting this 16-month nightmare behind them. Justina and her family now begins the process of healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually."

It's long past time to let Lou and Linda Pelletier re-unite with their daughter. They've been through too much. It's time for the healing to begin.