While ever the child remains unvaccinated, he remains at risk of contracting these diseases
– Justice Jenny Hogan: Family Court of Australia. July 17, 2015 –
“I’ve done my research”.
So goes the inaccurate claim of the anti-vaccine convert. As I’ve noted before this claim should be questioned as to what independent evaluation took place to discern the quality of such “research”. I realise this isn’t very user-friendly. Thus it’s a way of underscoring the inappropriateness of mums and dads using the term to defend their ignorance of vaccine efficacy and safety.
Perhaps this “research” should be compared to the advice and conclusions published by reputable health authorities. Perhaps the most simple approach is to run up a tally of reputable source information vs that from woo and quackery public health menaces. Ideally parents will see that ample research has already been done and their role is to seek advice from a GP.
Yet we know in a number of cases that won’t happen and anti-vaccine fear mongering and deception will be eagerly devoured and believed by some. Many will continue this “research” to varying degrees, perhaps joining forums, Facebook pages and YouTube channels, sinking ever deeper into hive mentality.
A July 17 Family Court of Australia finding provided a glimpse of the harm such forays into the dark and absurd realms of the Internet can potentially cause. In this case of “Arranzio and Moss” before Justice Jenny Hogan, Ms. Moss had told the court she intended to;
…never consent to the child being vaccinated [because she] has a conscientious objection to vaccination on the basis of her research.
Moss was seeking an injunction that would prevent her six year old son (who has never been immunised) being taken by his father for immunisation, “without her written permission”. She believes vaccines may cause cancer and “other health problems”, and believes her son suffers from “a range of allergies to different foods”.
Both parents had witnesses appear on their behalf.
The mother’s doctor, known as Dr J, told Justice Hogan that she had previously held ‘anti-vaccination views’ but now believed that vaccination was sometimes appropriate for children who were, for example, not breastfed.
Justice Hogan said that “no weight could sensibly” be given to Dr J’s views on the case at hand, because Dr J had not even seen the child when she decided that he had an “underlying immune shift” that might make vaccination problematic for him.
Dr. G, appearing for the father had studied at the Mayo Clinic and is a specialist in childhood allergies. He commented on the uselessness of “tests” Dr. J suggested the child was in need of, describing them as “total nonsense”. He went on to reject the claim that the chicken pox vaccine causes shingles as “bunkum” and noted that allergic reactions to vaccines are so rare he had “only one or two people referred to him over the years”.
The injunction was not granted. The finding quite firmly highlights the risk of contracting disease due to being unvaccinated, as opposed to the fallacious beliefs of the anti-vaccine lobby:
Justice Hogan said “the consequences for the child of contracting a disease weighed significantly against the grant of an injunction” – meaning the father should not be banned from having the child vaccinated because harm from potential diseases posed unacceptable risks.
“While ever the child remains unvaccinated, he remains at risk of contracting these diseases,” she said.
“Having regard to the above, I am not persuaded that an order restraining the father from having the child vaccinated is appropriate for the child’s welfare or in his best interests.”
What is immediately apparent with respect to these cases is that the so-called “evidence” that makes up the body of anti-vaccination “research” is presented in a law court in opposition to genuine evidence provided by qualified medical professionals. Family Court findings uphold the best interests and welfare of children.
In these cases the efficacy and safety of vaccines are themselves arguably on trial.
When the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network reacted to the announcement that Family Tax Benefits would be denied on the basis of vaccine conscientious objection they posted a Facebook meme likening vaccination to rape. This was the second time this group has used that comparison to vaccination.
On January 15, 2011 Meryl Dorey (then steering the group under its old name: Australian Vaccination Network) reacted to the first Family Court case of this type. In this instance the Court favoured the father’s wish to have his five year old daughter vaccinated. Dorey exploded on Facebook:
Court orders rape of a child. Think this is an exaggeration? Think again. This is assault without consent and with full penetration too. If we as a society allow this crime to take place, we are every bit as guilty as the judge who made the order and the doctor who carries it out. If anyone knows this family, please put them in touch with me – xx xxxx xxxx – I would like to see if there is anything the AVN can do.
In this case the witness for the anti-vaccine mother was chiropractor Warren Sipser. It was reported:
The mother produced opposing evidence that the vaccinations were unnecessary, but was criticised in the judgment for submitting evidence from an “immunisation sceptic”, who made what the magistrate described as “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”.
Chiropractic Association of Australia (CAA) member Warren Sipser quite recklessly described the outcome as “dangerous”. Sipser is unsurprisingly also a past professional member of the AVN (2004 – 2011), and a board member of CAA Victoria. He is also Secretary of CAA Victoria. The important thing is this “paediatric chiropractor” was comfortable with “outlandish statements unsupported by any empirical evidence”, being put forth to advance his client’s case.
In an October 19, 2012 Family Court ruling Justice Victoria Bennett rejected a Victorian mother’s claim that living a simple lifestyle, avoiding toxins and eating organic and unprocessed foods would develop the immune system of her eight year old daughter. A senior paediatrician from the Royal Children’s Hospital advised Justice Bennett that the homeopathic methods used by the mother had no basis in evidence.
In this case the child’s father had remarried and it was reported his daughter;
…was immunised for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio, HIB, measles, mumps, rubella and meningococcal C.
The father told the court he hoped to continue to “secretly vaccinate” her because he did not want to play “Russian roulette with her health”. He said he wanted to protect her from infectious diseases, and he was also concerned the child of his new wife, who is now pregnant, could contract a disease from an unvaccinated child.
In a convoluted and drawn out Family Court case that ended in April 2014 a Sydney father won the right to have his children – who turned 12 and 14 last year – vaccinated. Justice Garry Foster quite rightly observed that the 42 year old mother was narrowly focused with vaccination “perhaps to the point where the best interests of her children have been subsumed”.
As other matters of separation between Mr. Randall and Ms. Duke-Randall continued the court restrained either parent from vaccinating either child until a three day hearing into vaccination took place. The mother kept the children on a low-salicylate and low-amine diet, and was apparently wasting court time in an attempt to obtain evidence that the children would be adversely effected by vaccination. However:
Justice Foster [found] the mother had been deliberately delaying proceedings and ignoring directions, which led to the ”strong inference that she has done so to suit her own end that the issue as to vaccination be delayed for as long as possible”.
Justice Foster accepted evidence from a senior consultant in immunology, given the pseudonym Professor K, that both children are healthy and do not have any allergies or any other contraindications to vaccination.
This case was particularly concerning in that the children’s mother sought to have immunisation declared a “special medical procedure”. [Family Court: March 11, 2013. July 18, 3013]. This would have placed vaccination in the same category as gender reassignment or sterilisation of intellectually disabled girls. Her quest to convince the Family Court her children would suffer adversely from vaccination included collection of blood, urine and faecal matter.
It is fortunate the Family Court found in favour of the children’s father.
Similar trends are documented in the USA, the UK and other developed nations where an anti-vaccine lobby seeks to spread deception and misinformation. It would appear these cases may well become more frequent. Thanks to the work of groups who tackle the anti-vaccination lobby the public is becomming increasingly aware of the extent of harm “anti-vaxxers” have on their children.
As I mentioned above, these Family Court cases are in many ways a legal challenge to, or opportunity for, anti-vaccination beliefs.
Fortunately in the Family Court of Australia, the anti-vaccination lobby has had no success at all.