A recent news story described a newborn being taken away from her mother shortly after birth because of the mother’s refusal to allow the child to be vaccinated with a Hepatitis B vaccine. In my law practice, I hear stories from time to time about newborns being vaccinated in the hospital after birth without the parents’ permission. Most of the time, these kind of problems are avoidable with a little legal information and some common sense preparation.
The mother whose child was taken away had planned a home birth, and made the mistake of not having a contingency plan, a “Plan B,” in case she ended up in the hospital, as some planned home births inevitably do for one reason or another. Once in the hospital, she politely refused the Hep B vaccine, but unfortunately, not in a manner consistent with her state’s legal options. Sadly, we don’t have the right to decide what goes into our and our children’s bodies, at least not absolutely. As disgusting as that feel to many of us, it’s the legal reality. So, if you’re expecting, find out what your state’s vaccine requirements and legal exemption options are! These may vary from state to state, so go to an authoritative source – a site that posts the actual laws (links to three such sites are here), or to your local or state health department (call them or go to their website). Unauthoritative sources such as anti-vaccine websites mean well, and they often have great information about vaccine health concerns, but they often misunderstand some aspects of exemption laws and rights, and some people have lost rights by relying on them. Where legal rights are concerned, if it’s important, it’s worth getting it right the first time.
It’s not only important to know the law for your own sake, so that you know what to do and what not to do, but also because many people on the other side of the fence misunderstand the law as well. For example, North Carolina’s health department regulations allow parents up to three months to get their newborn his or her first Hep B vaccine. You don’t need an exemption to say “no” in a NC hospital, at least according to the law. However, a new NC parent once said she was threatened by a doctor with having her baby taken away from her right after birth if she didn’t let them vaccine the baby right there in the hospital. So, we need to know our rights to be able to defend against and counter the all-too-common ignorant abuse of the medical community.
Why would a doctor do this? Well, in addition to being among the vaccine-misinformed pharmaceutical-salespeople that so many doctors are, most professionals are legally required to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect. The woman referred to above whose child was taken away? She was, essentially, attempting to exercise a philosophical exemption in a state that had only medical and religious exemptions. So, by politely refusing the Hep B vaccine, she was, in effect, declaring herself to be a legally neglectful parent (yes, one can become legally “neglectful” as an unintended side-effect of being an informed parent). The hospital social worker may not have had a choice, if she was to abide by the law strictly. I’m not saying she should have taken the baby away or that she couldn’t have cooperated with the new mother, I’m saying that the social worker’s actions were probably legally defensible. Maybe reprehensible as well from the point of view of some of us, but probably legally correct. In fact, if the social worker hadn’t taken the baby away, the social worker might have put her own job at risk. Such is the insanity of our current society, ‘insanity’ considering how many newborn babies are sexually promiscuous drug users at risk of contracting Hepatitis B and the fact that vaccines come with a risk of permanent disability or death.
So, how do you avoid the situations described above? First, regardless of whether or not you are planning a home birth, you should plan for a hospital visit in case you end up there. Second, you should take steps to exercise an exemption, and put that in writing, and make sure that everyone has a copy in advance of the writing. For those planning a home birth, have the document ready ahead of time in a hospital bag so that if you end up rushing to the hospital unexpectedly, you don’t have to take time to look for it or worry about forgetting it. In short, think it through, put it in writing, be prepared.
There’s another potential complication with newborn vaccine exemptions, that being that many exemption laws are written in language that contemplates school enrollment. There probably aren’t many exemption laws written specifically for refusing the Hep B vaccine for newborns. So, you may have to improvise a little. Do what the law says for school exemptions, or write a statement consistent with one or more of your state’s exemption laws. If you have doubts, consult a knowledgeable attorney. Again, if it’s important, it’s worth doing right. But so far, at least, I’ve never heard of someone being refused an exemption for a newborn because the exemption law was written for school enrollment. And if you have to state what your religious beliefs are that are opposed to immunizations, consider getting help, as there are legal pitfalls to avoid that can undermine the exemption. What does and doesn’t qualify for a vaccine religious exemption is often inconsistent with a common sense approach to writing statements of religious belief.
One final comment: The insanity referred to above? We have the power to change that. There are two basic steps. First, learn all you can about the science and the law, the corruption in industry and government, and your current rights. Second, take steps to preserve and expand your right to free choice. This includes–indeed, requires–becoming legislatively aware and active. Laws are being passed that restrict access to vaccine exemptions and to enable children to consent to vaccines. Many of these laws are unconstitutional, but legislatures enact them anyway. If we don’t make our voices loud enough soon enough, we will all end up being required to get more and more vaccines, with less and less legal right to say ‘no.’ If this is not acceptable to you, join the NVIC’s Advocacy Portal, and the Pandemic Response Project‘s mailing list.
The above is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to constitute legal or medical advice.
About the author:
Alan Phillips, Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 3473
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-3473
Vaccine Rights: www.vaccinerights.com
The Pandemic Response Project: www.pandemicresponseproject.com