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Mom Would Rather Go to Jail Than Vaccinate Son

by Claudya Martinez

Photograph by Twenty20

Did you know there are some moms that feel so strongly about not vaccinating their children that they're willing to go to jail over it? Michigan mom Rebecca Bredow is one of those moms.

Bredow, who lives in a Detroit suburb, has been in a heated custody battle with her ex-husband, James Horne. One of the points of contention has been her refusal to vaccinate their 9-year-old son. Last November, Horne was able to get an Oakland County court to side with him and order Bredow to have their son vaccinated.

Regardless of the court order, Bredow seems determined to stand her ground. “I can’t give in against my own religious belief,” she told The Washington Post. “This is about choice. This is about having my choices as a mother to be able to make medical choices for my child.”

She has until Wednesday of this week to get her son vaccinated or face jail time. “Most likely, I’ll be going to jail on Wednesday,” she said.

When Bredow and Horne were still together, they had agreed to space out their son’s vaccinations. Initially, the plan was to delay their son’s vaccines for three months after he was born in 2008. The couple split up shortly after, but then, according to Bredow, in 2010, they both agreed to stop vaccinating their son—and he's never received any more since then.

Apparently, Horne is no longer on board with that decision.

"Now I have four and a half business days ... to fully vaccinate, they want me to bring him up to the fullest extent medically allowed, which would be up to eight vaccines, in one dose," Bredow told ABC News. "And this is supposed to be done before 9 a.m. on Wednesday."

As their son's primary caregiver, Bredow is worried that should he suffer from a vaccine injury, she would have to be the one to deal with the consequences.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics defends the safety of vaccines and adamantly stresses their importance, many states still allow for exemptions. Michigan is one of almost 20 states that allow exemptions for religious and personal reasons.

In order to get a vaccination waiver for non-medical reasons, Michigan parents or guardians who have children enrolled in public or private schools must attend a class that teaches them about diseases that vaccines can prevent. Bredow says that’s exactly what she did.

Despite what people may think, Bredow claims not to be anti-vaccines. “I choose not to vaccinate, but that's my choice," she said. “I'm not against vaccines—it's everybody's personal choice."

The main problem here seems to be that she and Horne have joint custody and Horne’s personal choice is not the same as hers.

"It is our position that this case is not truly about vaccinations," Benton G. Richardson, Horne’s lawyer told ABC News. "It is a case about Ms. Bredow refusing to comport with any number of the court's orders and actively seeking to frustrate Mr. Horne's joint legal custody rights."

It will be interesting to see if Bredow does indeed end up going to jail for refusing to vaccinate her child and how that will affect vaccination policy and its enforcement in the future.

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