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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 13, 2017 1:00 am

Jailed mom in middle of vaccination battle

Washington Post

A Michigan mother said she's had a “rough few days” after serving nearly a week in jail for defying a court order to have her 9-year-old son vaccinated and then learning that he received several immunizations after she was locked up behind bars.

Rebecca Bredow, from the Detroit area, was sentenced last week for contempt of court nearly a year after an Oakland County judge ordered her to have her son vaccinated.

“It was the worst five days of my life pretty much,” the 40-year-old mother told the Detroit Free Press about her time in jail.

Bredow's ex-husband, James Horne, who shares joint custody of their son, wanted the boy to be vaccinated, but Bredow had refused to do it on religious grounds.

“I can't give in against my own religious belief,” she told The Washington Post last month, adding she is not against vaccination. “This is about choice. This is about having my choices as a mother to be able to make medical choices for my child.”

Oakland County Circuit Judge Karen McDonald told Bredow last week that she is not the only parent who deserves a say in their son's care. The judge granted Horne temporary custody of their son and ordered him to be vaccinated – and then sentenced Bredow on Oct. 4 to serve seven days in county jail.

A majority of states allow religious exemptions for vaccinations. Nearly 20, including Michigan, provide exemption for religious and personal reasons.

In Michigan, parents or guardians of children enrolled in public and private schools are required to attend an educational session in which they learn about diseases that vaccines can prevent, before they're given waivers for nonmedical purposes.

Bredow said that's what she did. She added that she and Horne initially agreed to delay their son's vaccines for three months after he was born in 2008. Two years later, in 2010, she said they both agreed to suspend all immunizations, and their son has not had a vaccine shot since.

Attempts to reach Horne's attorney to confirm Bredow's account were unsuccessful.

The legal dispute also comes amid a growing anti-vaccine sentiment, which began in 1998, when a medical journal published a now-discredited study linking vaccination with autism. The once-fringe movement has become more popular and received a nod of approval from Donald Trump, who repeatedly suggested a link between vaccination and autism before he ran for president.

Several people who support Bredow gathered outside the Oakland County courthouse Wednesday, holding signs saying they “Stand with Rebecca” and “No Forced Shots.”