COVID-19 Vaccination Should Not Be Legally Required for Parenthood
A family court judge in Chicago denied a mother the right to custody over her son until she gets vaccinated against COVID-19, the implication being that an unvaccinated parent is not a fit parent. The ruling didn’t hold long—the judge himself quickly reversed course—but the initial decision will be chilling for thousands of parents across the country. Making parental or child vaccination a requirement for custody would be an enormous judicial and government overreach, setting a dangerous precedent for intervention into what has traditionally been the realm of the family. This case may be a fluke, but parents engaged in custody disputes across the country should be aware that their vaccination status might play a role in determining whether they have access to their child.
This is not the first time judges have tried to use judicial power to convince the unwilling to get vaccinated. In Ohio, at least two judges have made vaccination a condition of probation; the defendants will face jail time if they do not get vaccinated. These cases might not attract the sympathy of many. People who are facing probation have, by definition, been convicted of crimes and lost at least some of their autonomy to the state. There is a well-established history of judges using “creative” punishments to try to reform defendants (usually through public humiliation).
Reasonable people can disagree about the degree to which judges can, or should, try to impose creative sentences, including coronavirus vaccine mandates, for defendants. People who have been convicted of crimes are human beings, and forcing someone to choose between being vaccinated against their will or going to prison should at the very least raise eyebrows. But using COVID-19 vaccination as a factor in decision-making at family court erases the autonomy of parents who have committed no crimes and might otherwise be thoughtful, loving guardians.
Parents who are hesitant to be vaccinated aren’t the first to face judicial pressure because of their perceived failures as a parent. Christian Scientists, for example, traditionally refuse to receive all but the most limited medical care. This has had dire consequences: Christian Scientist parents who have failed to seek medical care for their children have been brought before c
Article from Latest – Reason.com