Oct 5, 2017

Ferndale mom jailed for refusing to vaccinate her 9-year-old son

Researchers are testing a painless skin patch that features tiny, dissolvable needles full of the flu vaccine
John Wisely
Detroit Free Press
October 4, 2017
Michigan requires vaccines but grants waivers for religious and other objections.

A Ferndale mother was jailed this morning for ignoring a court order to vaccinate her 9-year-old son.

Rebecca Bredow, 40, will spend seven days in the Oakland County Jail for contempt of court after she refused an order Judge Karen McDonald gave her last week.

Bredow told McDonald that vaccinating the child went against her religious beliefs.

"If my child is going to be forced to be vaccinated, I couldn't bring myself to do," Bredow told the judge today in court. "It goes against my beliefs."

WXYZ-TV Detroit quoted Bredow as saying she would rather go to jail.

"I would rather sit behind bars standing up for what I believe in, than giving in to something I strongly don't believe in," Bredow said.

Bredow's ex-husband, James Horne, wants the child immunized and has been in court since last year trying to get it.

McDonald acknowledged the father's right to influence his son's health care.

The court initially ordered the immunization Nov. 16, 2016, but it still hasn't happened. In between, Bredow cited religious objections.

But Horne's attorney said in court pleadings that the religious objection was phony arguing that both Bredow and her current husband, Gary, "testified that they do not practice the tenets of any organized religion," and calling a waiver document the couple filed with the child's school "a convenient lie."

Bredow said in court pleadings that her ex-husband has long known of her objection to vaccines and is only making an issue of it now because she's been attempting to collect back child support.Last week, McDonald issued an ultimatum, to Bredow.

"You have seven days to get your child vaccinated," McDonald told Bredow Sept. 27. "If not, you will appear here Wednesday and if you have not, I'll send you to jail. Let me say it one more time, you have seven days. It's ridiculous. Don't make me do that."

But when Bredow appeared in court today, the child still had not be vaccinated, and McDonald made good on her promise and ordered Bredow to jail.

Horne will have temporary custody of the child with an opportunity to get the boy vaccinated, a prospect that alarmed Joel Dorfman of Michigan for Vaccine Choice, a group that advocates for parents' rights to refuse vaccines.

"If this child is injured as a result of being given eight immunizations, who do you think is going to take care of the child?" Dorfman told the Free Press. "The judge?"

The couple have been divorced for years and custody has been contentious.

Horne accuses Bredow of repeatedly violating his parenting time rights and said in court pleadings that she and her current husband are both medical marijuana users. Bredow has twice been charged with domestic violence against her husband, according to court records.

Bredow accused her ex-husband of being a pornography addict, saying he's repeatedly exposed her son to explicit material.

Michigan schools require children to be vaccinated but parents can seek waivers for religious and other objections.

Dorfman said the jailing was outrageous and said it should be warning to parents who are getting divorced that they need to spell out in the divorce settlement who will have authority for making health decisions for children, including vaccines.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong age for the child.

Contact John Wisely: 248-858-2262 or jwisely@freepress.com. On Twitter @jwisely.


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