September 03, 2008
A lawsuit was filed yesterday 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 were the State of Alaska, Gov. 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. Jim Gottstein, the president of the group, was instrumental two years ago in ensuring that the leaked Zyprexa court documents reached the public. A press release from Psych Rights can be found here.
The lawsuit is sweeping and seeks to go after the age-old practice of giving psych meds to children and teens in the custody or care of various state programs, at times without the knowledge of the children's parents (if there are any) and without the informed consent of the child or teen. Gottstein argues in his filing (2.2 MB .pdf here) that such practices violate the constitutional rights of children. I'm not going to put on a law class here (to the degree that I could), but here are some snippets from the suit.
Gottstein wrote to Gov. Palin in February 2008: