Mum's bid to have son removed from 'anti-vax' dad rejected by judge, who says 12-year-old able to make up his own mind
A mother’s bid to have her 12-year-old son removed from his anti-vax father has been rejected by a judge, who said what she was asking was the sort of thing “that could be expected in a totalitarian or communist regime”.
The mother and father, who have shared custody of the boy, appeared before Judge Stephen Coyle in the Family Court at Whakatāne in December.
The mother was applying for an order to have the boy placed in her interim care until he received his two Covid-19 vaccinations.
She also sought orders barring the father from discussing anti-vaccination views around the boy.
The mother’s lawyer said it would be “psychologically unsafe to have the boy exposed to an anti-vaccination world view”.
The boy had, through his own lawyer and in discussion with the judge in chambers, made it clear he did not want to be vaccinated.
The boy said his father had told him no-one knew what was in the vaccine and that none of the vaccine companies would be held liable if there were problems with the vaccine. The boy also said his father told him that a vaccine was “foreign stuff” and the Bible said you should not have “foreign stuff” in your body.
The boy also queried the effectiveness of the vaccine and said his stepmother had told him the vaccine was tested on aborted foetus cells.
In a recently released decision Judge Coyle said all parties accepted that he had to consider the boy’s age and maturity and consequently what weight should be placed on his views.
The judge noted he was concerned at the tenor of the lawyer acting for the boy, who had said it would be a “distasteful prospect” if the boy was not vaccinated.
The Judge did not agree and said “I do not accept that [the boy] expressing a non-mainstream view, or a view that [the lawyer] disagrees with is in any way ‘distasteful’”.
He said the boy was “a good, sensible and intelligent young man” who had a scientific bent and had “to some extent adopted a scientific analysis in that he has weighed up the pros and cons of the decisions that he has reached”.
“What [the mother] is asking the court to do is to ensure [the boy] is only exposed to one discourse and narrative in relation to the vaccine, being a narrative which is held by the majority and the only narrative universally promulgated by the mainstream media and health professionals commenting through the media,” the judge said.
To ensure the boy was only exposed to a singular narrative “is the type of response that could be expected in a totalitarian or communist regime, but not in a free and democratic society ... It is not the function of the Courts to make orders, effect of which is to expose children and young people to only the mainstream narrative,” he said.
He noted that the Ministry of Health gave people aged 12 and above the right to give their own consent about vaccination.
The judge said he was not satisfied that it was in the boy’s best interests and welfare to require him to be vaccinated, and that he should not be compelled to be vaccinated against his wishes.
“[The boy] should be free to be exposed, in relation to any issue, to a plurality of views, so that he can eventually make his own decisions as to what values and beliefs he chooses to live by,” the judge said.
He dismissed all the mother's applications and awarded costs to the father, should he seek them.
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