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Words by Qadriyyah Brown


Should a mother be sent to jail if she chooses to delay or not to vaccinate her child due to religious beliefs? Or just out of safety concerns or personal reasons?

On Wednesday, October 4th, Michigan mother Rebecca Bredow was sentenced to 7 days in jail for being in contempt of court after refusing to vaccinate her 9-year-old son almost a year after being ordered to do so. Should a parent who has full custody in a custody battle be able to make the decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate without the full consent of the other parent or a judge intervening?

The American Medical Association has for a very long time frowned upon allowing parents the option to decline vaccinating their children for non-medical reasons, but a number of states, including Michigan, actually provide exemption for personal and religious reasons. All of this comes in the midst of anti-vaccine sentiment that since the late 1990’s, has linked vaccinations with autism. Perhaps it should be a requirement for every parent in every state to receive a free educational class to learn more about vaccines and diseases and how vaccines can help prevent diseases. And after taking such a class, the parent should then be able to sign a waiver form to not vaccinate their child for any non medical purpose without facing the risk of being jailed.

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Bredow’s case is an evidence that soon judges may be forcing parents in legal battles to vaccinate their child by a certain date or be jailed as an accepted and normal consequence. That once you and your family decide to take your personal issues into the court system, one or both of you may end up not just losing but risking coming out with a jail record, all in the name of a personal choice that parents everywhere make every day.

#standwithrebecca # noforcedshots