Parents who've been judged to be "unfit" during child protection proceedings cannot prevent the vaccination of their children on religious grounds, according to a 3-0 decision this week by a Michigan Court of Appeals panel.
The Michigan appeals court upheld the decision of a Kent County judge to order physician-recommended immunizations for the four children – despite the mother's religious objections. The trial judge found the vaccinations were in the best interest of the children and society.
According to the court, the parents of the children were deemed "unfit" because of periods of homelessness and unstable housing, failure to provide financial support and food, improper supervision of the children, and the mother's mental health and substance abuse problems. The children were made wards of the court, removed from their home, and placed in foster care.
The appeals court ruled that parents who have been declared "unfit" lose the right to make medical decisions for their children, including immunization, until the final disposition of their case.
The appeals court concluded, "That responsibility now rests with the trial court, and the trial court did not exceed its authority by ordering immunization of the children over the (mother's) objections given that the facts proven and ascertained demonstrate that immunization is appropriate for the welfare of the children and society."