Court Rules West Virginia Mom Must Vaccinate Her Child

Filed under: In The News

Some parents worry about vaccinating their children. Credit: jupiterimages

Opponents of vaccines lost a court battle this month, as a federal judge ruled that a West Virginia mom must immunize her child.

Jennifer Workman of Mingo County, W.Va., refused to allow her daughter to be immunized before starting school, as required by state law. According to The Associated Press, Workman's lawsuit expressed concern "that her daughter could develop autism" if she received standard vaccines, and also that immunizations were against her religion, which is Christian Bapticostal, according to the Charleston Gazette.

Vaccines have been a hot topic with parents for some time now, and the issue is once again getting headlines because of swine flu. Jenny McCarthy led a march to "Green Our Vaccines" in 2008, and later claimed that her son had been "cured" of his autism through diet, something that pediatricians say is impossible.

The controversy continued in February of this year, when a scientific journal found that anti-vax hero Dr. Andrew Wakefield "changed and misreported results in his research" which he said showed a link between the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) and autism. The finding did little to convince parents who believe that the increase in autism diagnoses is, in part, caused by immunizations.

This video is from a report that appeared on "Dateline" NBC in August of this year.

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The legal aspects of Workman's case did not hold up in court. Most states require children to be immunized before they attend school, and Workman sued because she wanted an exemption.

The Charleston Gazette quotes Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin of U.S. District Court in Charleston, the judge who ruled against Workman, as noting the West Virginia mom's position: "Christian Bapticostal religious beliefs require that she honor God by protecting her child from harm and illness, and that immunizing [her daughter] in this instance would violate those sincerely held beliefs."

However, while West Virginia is one of only two states to allow medical exemptions to immunizations -- Mississippi is the other -- they do not allow "religious or philosophical exemptions," according to the Gazette. Workman's attorney Patricia Finn told the Gazette that while they feel that judge Goodwin "looked at the matter very carefully," they plan to appeal his decision, adding that, "The laws in West Virginia regarding religious freedom and vaccination are [overbearing]."

Related: Doctor Who Linked Autism and Vaccines Faked Data

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.