Michigan mom sentenced to 7 days in jail for not following court order to vaccinate her children

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/10/05/michigan-mom-sentenced-to-7-da.html


She’s learning that as a parent, you have only responsibilities with respect to raising your children, not rights.


It is a technical difference, but an important one, that she was not jailed merely for not vaccinating her child. She earlier agreed through her attorney to vaccinate her child.

She has been jailed for contempt.

They love this shit in Illinois as a means of collecting debts. Sue a delinquent debtor, get them to agree to a court stipulated repayment plan, then throw them in jail for contempt when they don’t make their payments.


Jail time? really? this isn’t helping. Is there a gif of someone eating popcorn, but also kinda feeling sick? I know this is going to blow up, and I do want to know what will come of it. But I also really don’t.


Well, maybe it’s helping. Is the kid vaccinated yet?


We have somewhat larger-scale experiments to draw from if we’re looking a data-supported answer as to whether jail time applied to family health/social issues is a net positive…aaaaand, it’s not looking good.


She was sent to the slammer for 7 days for violating a court order, a common practise that’s being frequently abused but isn’t unjust in and of itself. In this particular case, the person declared she would not follow the court order and then lied to the court about her reasons for doing so (claiming a prior verbal agreement that demonstrably did not exist).

That she had to lie to support her position is not surprising, of course, given that she’s an anti-vaxxer.


As strongly as I support vaccinations, the idea of using force or punishment to promote them makes me deeply uncomfortable. Bodily autonomy is important to me, even when I might disagree with the individual.


And yet I bet the father can’t get full custody, even though I think there is a great argument he is a fitter parent - because males are shitty parents.


As a counterpoint - what of the bodily autonomy of the children who get sick because of the resulting compromised herd immunity?


Agreed. Plus … how did this wind up in court? If they have shared custody and there was already an agreement to vaccinate, why didn’t the father just take the children to the doctor himself and have them vaccinated? Why are they forcing the mother to do it if the father wants to? It also sounds highly sexist on the part of the court, and it’s sad to see this kind of decision-making meted out by a female judge. I mean, putting a child’s mother into jail? This is NOT in the best interests of the child, either, and that consideration is supposed to be of paramount importance.


No one is fully safeguarded from disease, even with immunizations. Comprimising one person’s autonomy bevause of a “what-if” situation is still wrong.

Better to rely on positive social campaigns and norms. I think that’s as good as it gets.

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The mother was jailed for refusing to follow a court order. Through her lawyer, she told the court she would follow the court order and vaccinate her children, and then she refused to follow/ignored the court order.


It’s not “what-if.” Once community’s immunization levels drop below a certain rate, preventable diseases will spread and children will suffer and die as a result. Just because you can’t pin-point the cause of every single case doesn’t make the effect insignificant.


Sounds like he’s maliciously using the legal system to harass the mother. If he wants the children vaccinated, there’s nothing stopping him from taking them to doctor and having them vaccinated. According to the story, he already did this to some extent, already.

It is a “what-if” as far as individuals are concerned.

I’m not sure of what you are trying to convince me of.

I am pro-vaccination. If you are trying to get me to agree that the state should be allowed to force injections onto citizens without their consent with the threat of jail time, you will be dissapointed.

According to the story, she signed a non-medical waiver for vaccinations without the father’s consent, which in essence allowed the kids to go to school unvaccinated. It’s not clear why the father didn’t get them the vaccinations himself, but perhaps he didn’t receive the initial notice or incorrectly assumed that his ex was acting in good faith as she had in the past regarding vaccinations.

The judge also noted that she changed the kids’ schools and therapists also without the father’s consent, which indicates that the anti-vaxxer woo is part of a larger power game between her and the father, using the court as a tool and the kids as pawns.


I agree with you up to a point. The problem is a child isn’t really their own person, legally. Why is one parents wishes more important than the other? In this case the court had to decide what was best for the child and I think they made the right decision.

Let’s look at another example. What if the child had cancer and the father wanted to go through Chemo or what ever medical procedure was available, and the mother either wanted to pray away the cancer, or cure it “naturally”. At that point wouldn’t one agree there is clearly one option that is in the best interest of the child?


I never said they were.

I’m not certain that’s true. Do you really believe jailing a parent has no effect on the child? How much do you really know about either parents’ character? All I know is that they are both petty enough to let this get all the way to court.

What I believe is irrelevant to another family and their healthcare choices.

Edited to add: how is the state’s choice made for a child who cannot choose for themselves any better?

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That’s a strong accusation to make in the abscence of any evidence.