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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Child Custody, Vaccination, and Incarceration

child custody
The bodies are hitting the floor in family court this month. And the kerfuffle is over whether a parent can refuse court-ordered vaccinations of their minor children.

Here is a summary of the two media cases exploding in the Oakland County Family Court.

The Matheson Case

This morning Oakland County Family Court Judge Karen McDonald will again address a child custody dispute between parents concerning the vaccination of their children.  The custody hearing on-tap today is the second one this month to receive media scrutiny because the mothers are facing [or have done] jail time as a result of refusing the court-ordered vaccinations.

Lori Matheson opposes vaccination but her ex-husband is seeking to have their daughter vaccinated. Judge McDonald patiently listened to Mom's testimony about various childhood diseases for about an hour before continuing the hearing at a later date. She gave Mom until today to present DNA evidence that her daughter may be predisposed to what Mom characterized as "vaccination injury".

Here's the problem for Mom: when Judge McDonald swung-open her courtroom doors this morning to continue the hearing, there was a "suprise" witness; a physician prepared to offer testimony in "adversomics". Unfortunately for Mom, however, her attorney could not get her qualified as an expert witness on vaccinations under the court rules, much to the exasperation of Judge McDonald.

What Mom needed in this case is an immunologist; a physician specializing in the science dealing with the immune system and the cell-mediated and humoral aspects of immunity and immune responses; preferably in children at that. So the testimony from the physician Mom proffered was limited to that of a general physician on topics of general medicine.

We here at the Law Blogger, however, wonder whether any immunologists out there would actually testify about the benefits of adversomics. Can Mom find a competent expert witness in the antivaxx camp?

The Bredow Case

Earlier this month, Ferndale Mom Rebecca Bredow was warned by Judge McDonald that she now only had seven-days to arrange for the vaccination of her 9-year old son; the judge reminded Bredow that the vaccination had been ordered -through the consent of both parents- back in November of last year.

When Bredow showed-up in court last week reporting that the boy remained un-vaccinated, Judge McDonald sent Bredow to jail for a week, as promised and expected. For her part, Bredow said she would rather go to jail for her beliefs -both medical and religious- then give-in to something so contrary to those beliefs.

Well, Dad called bunk on Mom's position, asserting that she does not adhere to the tenets of any organized religion. He did point out to the court, however, that she and her husband both had medical marijuana cards.

Oakland County Circuit Court records show that Mom has been twice-charged with domestic violence against Dad. The Freep reports that, for her part, Mom has accused Dad of having a pornography addiction to which their son has been exposed. Yes, custody in this two year split has been messy and contentious.

Mom was sprung from jail yesterday, but then learned that not only was her son vaccinated against her wishes and pursuant to court order, she had lost physical custody of the child. The children temporarily live in Dad's home.

These cases now have the attention of the national press. When this blogger was traveling between courts today, the cases were each profiled on CNN radio.

So what is the general consensus about vaccinations? The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the Center for Disease Control, and the American Osteopathic Association all recommend careful scheduled vaccination of children. In addition, there is informative literature available -to attorneys as well as the general public- from the CDC, the National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration on this topic.

Often, the folks in the antivaxx camp tend to resort to anecdotal evidence compared to the rigors of scientific experimentation and testing.

So the question involved in both cases is how vaccination -and medical treatment in general- affects custody. Disagreements over health-related issues of the children are common among parents sharing joint custody.

Custody determinations are performed pursuant to the child custody act; the act contains "factors" on which family court judges make findings. The factor relevant to vaccinations states:
(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
In these vaccination cases, where the parents disagree on the issue of whether their child should receive a vaccination, the family court judges face a tough decision. On the other hand, the parent in the antivaxx camp has a tough row to hoe from an evidentiary perspective.

We here at the Law Blogger will continue to monitor these cases and report their ultimate resolutions.
Post #606

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