In a recent Saskatchewan decision that made headlines, a court ordered the COVID-19 vaccination of a teenager, despite the mother’s objections.
Parents Go to Court Over Teen’s COVID-19 Vaccination
The divorced parents have two children. Their eldest child, a daughter, was 12 years old, soon to be 13. A 2014 court decision had determined that the children would live with the mother, and the father would have regular specified parenting time. The mother was also granted final decision-making authority with respect to education and medical matters involving the children.
In 2021, the father applied to court for an order authorizing him to proceed to have the daughter vaccinated against COVID-19. The mother opposed the application.
The application was originally set to be heard in court in June 2021, but was delayed until the end of August 2021 so that the parents could file additional materials and arguments.
The court issued its decision on September 9, 2021.
Parents Disagree on Child’s Vaccination
The father wanted to have the daughter vaccinated due to his concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus and its effect on this child. As part of his submissions, he stated that the daughter was at a higher risk due to her diabetic condition. Thus, he was concerned about COVID-19 and wanted the daughter to be vaccinated.
The mother opposed the vaccination of the daughter for three reasons. First, she submitted that the daughter did not want to be vaccinated. Second, the mother claimed that the daughter may have a physical medical condition called “vaccine toxicity” and should be eligible for an exemption from vaccination. Finally, the mother’s submissions indicated that she opposed vaccination generally and questioned the accuracy of the various COVID-19 information being disseminated by the health authorities. The mother also accused the father of being obsessive and excessive in relation to following COVID-19 health measures, in particular in regards to the children.
Court Clarifies Scope of Its Inquiry
At the outset, in response to the mother’s numerous submissions, the court set out what evidence would not be reviewed, stating:
“This case is not about whether there is, or has been, a pandemic with respect to the COVID-19 virus. It is also not about whether the numbers with respect to that pandemic are accurate, sufficiently large, or really affect children. It is also not about the safety or the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine…
This case is also not about governments bullying or forcing citizens to take experimental drugs. It is not about freedom of speech or the lack thereof. And, it is not about the inability of certain individuals to have their points of view heard to their personal satisfaction.
Finally, it is not about either right or left politics. And it is not about society or the Court picking a side in a legitimate ongoing societal debate. In short, it is not about the current health situation and any suggestion it has been politicized. Thus, it is not about the propriety or impropriety of the various levels of government imposing health guidelines, restrictions, masking, or lack of vaccination consequences.”
The court then set out what would be under consideration, explaining:
“This application is about only one thing: should this 12-year-old child be ordered to be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus if she is saying she does not want that to be done and in light of evidence concerning a condition called “vaccine toxicity”?”
Thus, the court set out to determine whether allowing the father’s application would be in the daughter’s best interests.
Court Considers Daughter’s Best Interests
The court began by considering the daughter’s specific physical needs.
With respect to the father’s submission on the daughter’s diabetic condition, the court concluded that it did not place her at any greater risk than any other members of society with respect to the effects of contracting COVID-19. The court also rejected the mother’s claim of “vaccine toxicity”, finding that the evidence did not support the contention.
The court then considered the daughter’s views and preferences. Specifically, it looked at the mother’s claim that the daughter did not want to receive the COVId-19 vaccine based on information she had received and her own research. While the mother submitted that the daughter’s views must be respected, the father questioned whether her views were truly her own. The court concluded:
“I do not accept this child is speaking independently. That lack of independence calls into question whether the views expressed are truly her own.
This leads me to conclude that in this case, as a result of my conclusions regarding COVID-19 and the vaccination, I cannot simply, in any event, exercising the Court’s parens patriae jurisdiction, leave the decision in this regard in the hands of a 12 year old. She is, after all, a child. She is 12. She is entitled to expect the ongoing guidance of the adults in her life and she is not entitled on all matters to simply make a decision on her own. This is one of those situations. Her views, as suspect as they may be, do not carry the day here.”
Court Orders Daughter’s COVID-19 Vaccination
The court took judicial notice that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination is safe and effective for use in people, including both adults and children. The court further stated that the mother’s argument that the vaccine was experimental was not in accordance with the general knowledge available regarding its approval process and implementation.
In the result, the court granted the father’s application and ordered the daughter’s COVID-19 vaccination, concluding:
“I have determined there is nothing before me that satisfies me on a balance of probabilities that this child’s health will be compromised by the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. In any event, with the manner in which the order is being granted, any health concerns may be the subject of consultation with the family physician and the endocrinologist. This will ensure the child’s medical issues are properly and thoroughly considered by those that are most familiar with her and her medical file.
In light of the determinations concerning COVID-19, its effects, and the need to be vaccinated to avoid these effects, I determine it is in the child’s best interests to have the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine administered forthwith.
This is so because she must have the ability to avoid contracting the virus. The most efficacious way that is done at this time is through the administration of the vaccine. The adverse and serious health effects of COVID-19 have been noted. This child’s best interests dictate she be given the best opportunity to avoid such health risks.”
The court further determined that the father be authorized to arrange for, and have completed, the vaccination without the consent of the mother.
Contact Feigenbaum Law for Experienced Advice on Family Law Matters
At Feigenbaum Law, our goal is to help you move forward following the breakdown of a relationship while retaining as much financial stability as possible and ensuring your children are provided for. Mark Feigenbaum is able to counsel his clients on all potential risks that may result from a family law dispute, not just those related strictly to the breakdown of a marriage. Contact Mark online or call him at (905) 695-1269 or toll-free at (877) 275-4792 to book a consultation.