On 17 December 2018, a Michigan family law court hearing a case in which divorced parents disagreed on vaccines, decided that the child should be vaccinated. In that decision, the Michigan court followed in the footsteps of most courts deciding such issues and upheld both the previous agreements between the parents and the child’s best interest. Continue reading “Michigan court supports vaccines – finds in favor of child’s health”
On 7 November 2017, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals mostly upheld a Federal District’s Court decision (pdf) to grant a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Michigan vaccine regulations that require parents seeking an exemption from school immunization requirements have an interview with health department personnel first. The decision reinforced the strong support our courts have provided states’ efforts to increase vaccines rates.
A mother signed a custody agreement that included her agreement to vaccinate her son. For over a year, the mother did not do so. For this refusal, and after giving her a last chance to comply, a judge had the Michigan mom jailed for seven days. She was jailed for ignoring a court order, not because she refused to vaccinate.
Getting to the point of contempt is likely not particularly common, but it’s not unheard of in family law disputes. So far, none of the facts make this case particularly extraordinary.
What appears to be unusual in this case is that the news coverage accepted the mother’s version and painted her as a principled martyr standing up for the sacred principle of, apparently, going to jail rather than protecting her child from disease. Orac discussed the false balance in the reporting. And that’s not what the case really embodies. Continue reading “Michigan mom jailed – not because of vaccines UPDATE”
The goal of this overview is to tell you about vaccine lawsuits in the federal and state courts (but not in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). As an overview, the discussion of each case will be very short. If you want more information, please let me know in the comments section. If you know of cases I have missed, also mention that in the comments.
The vaccine lawsuits overview is arranged by topic, and without topic by states, and within states in alphabetical order. I have chosen August 1, 2016 as a starting point to keep this manageable.
Note that the “claims” section provides a summary of what a complaint is claiming – what it is trying to do – and not an analysis of the claims’ validity. Where available, I link to a post discussing the claim’s merits more in detail. Where not, I add some comments about the validity. But the claims section just provides what the plaintiffs are claiming – it doesn’t mean their claims, hold water. Continue reading “Vaccine lawsuits – overview of litigation across the USA”
On March 22, 2016 a court of appeals in Michigan joined several other states in finding that a parent who lost custody cannot refuse to immunize her children. The court upheld an order to immunize the children even though if fit, the parent could have used a religious exemption her state offered. As in other jurisdictions, the court’s ruling on vaccination and custody was based on the child’s best interests, though the Michigan court emphasized that vaccinating was both for the benefit of the child and the community.
The Michigan court emphasized the extensive powers courts have to make decisions for children in their care. Fit parents have extensive leeway to make medical decisions for their children; but if found unfit, that broad power belongs to the court.
The court also interpreted the law to narrow the effect of other provisions that would have allowed the parent to oppose immunization. This was not the only possible interpretation, and the route the court chose shows its support of the decision to vaccinate and protect children and community. Continue reading “Vaccination and custody issues – child’s best interest”
Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations.
Professor Reiss also writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.
In Kagen v. Kagen (pdf), a Michigan Court of Appeals sided with a father who wanted his children vaccinated and overruled the opposition of the mother, ordering the children to be vaccinated on schedule. The Court found that vaccinating was in the best interest of the children. The Court also discussed which type of evidence can be used in Michigan to support claims about vaccines’ safety or lack thereof, highlighting that anti-vaccine sources are probably not going to cut it.
I am not a fan of Charter Schools for reasons that aren’t relevant to postings about skepticism and science. One of my issues with them is that the appear to be not very well regulated. In fact, the basic definition of charter school is that they receive public monies and less regulation as long as they produce results (usually higher standardized test scores). The definition of a charter school, according to the National Education Association (NEA), is:
Charter schools are publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each charter school’s charter.
NEA believes that charter schools and other nontraditional public school options have the potential to facilitate education reforms and develop new and creative teaching methods that can be replicated in traditional public schools for the benefit of all children. Whether charter schools will fulfill this potential depends on how charter schools are designed and implemented, including the oversight and assistance provided by charter authorizers.
This does not give them carte blanche to violate the constitution of the United States, specifically the Establishment Clause. A charter school in Michigan, the Byron Center Charter School, had this statement on their website (as recently as last week):
Byron Center Charter School cannot promote a certain religion, it can however, teach both creation and evolution as a theory, and use the Bible as a historical reference.
Let’s break down that sentence. Yes, the school cannot promote a certain religion. Several Supreme Court rulings say they can’t, so it’s good to know they understand the US Constitution. No, they cannot teach both creation and evolution as a theory, since only evolution is a theory and creation is fairytale based on not one single bit of science. And to use the Bible as a historical reference? Well, there are some historical references in it, but they are infrequent, and frankly wrapped into fairytales and myths. So, that sentence could be cut down to “Byron Center Charter School cannot promote a certain religion.”
Apparently, they have changed their website this week to remove the offensive, unconstitutional statement. But just because they removed it from their website does not mean that they’re not teaching creationism in clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. I hope that the State of Michigan determines if they’ve been in violation of the law then shut them down.
As the NEA states, “Charter schools should be monitored on a continuing basis and should be subject to modification or closure if children or the public interest is at risk.” The public interest has been put at risk.