In the notorious secret courts of the family division, a judge has ordered that two sisters, aged 11 and 15, must receive the MMR vaccine despite it being against their wishes and the wishes of their mother.
The ruling came after the estranged father of the two girls brought the case to the High Court seeking to force the mother and his daughters to comply with his wish that his daughters be vaccinated.
When the parents were together they both agreed that the eldest daughter should not receive a booster, having already received the initial inoculation at birth, and that the younger daughter should not receive the vaccine.
The girls expressed concern that the vaccine contains animal derivatives because one of them is a vegan, and the mother expressed concerns over the recent controversy surrounding MMR vaccines – which the father agreed with initially.
In the ruling, Mrs Justice Theis said that the case was “only concerned with the welfare needs of these children”.
She continued “Whilst I am acutely aware of both [girls'] wishes and feelings … I consider their views have inevitably been influenced by a number of factors. First, from their perspective the parents were initially united in their decision for them not to be vaccinated and they can’t understand why their father has changed his mind. Second, they have become focused on the issue of the ingredients of the vaccine without being able to consider and balance the wider picture.”
The ruling was made on 5th September after a private hearing on 31st July and Mrs Justice Theis has been criticised by MPs and campaigners for improvements in the family court system for not publishing the ruling earlier.
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who chairs the campaign group Justice for Families, told the Guardian “The delay in producing family court judgments following private hearings deeply concerns me and this is par for the course. MMR is an important issue – although it’s not the first time it’s come before the courts. There is no doubt in this case that the judge should have issued an anonymised judgment at an early stage.”
Other cases brought before the courts include a mother who was ordered to have her child receive the MMR vaccine in 2003 after the court ruled that the benefits outweighed the risks. In another case in 2011, children in care were ordered to receive the vaccine against their parents’ wishes.
Recent controversy over the MMR vaccine centred on a report published in 1998 which linked the vaccine to autism and bowel disease. However, controversy over the MMR vaccine has been long-running.
In 2007 confidential documents released under the Freedom of Information Act proved that the UK government were well aware of problems with the vaccine in use at the time, which could lead to meningitis, involving a swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Officials were aware of problems with the vaccine in America, Sweden, and Canada many months before they introduced the vaccine into the UK.
In 1993, Japan banned the use of MMR vaccine after 1.8 million children had been given two types of MMR and a record number developed non-viral meningitis and other adverse reactions. After a revision in 1999, the Japanese government decided that the combined vaccine was still unsafe and continued to use separate vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella.
The MMR vaccine debate will probably carry on for some time, but the point here is that an individual has ordered that others who oppose the ‘official’ view of the vaccine should be forced to receive it.
The judge cited that the welfare of the children was the main concern of the court and that the children were unable to “consider and balance the wider picture”.
Perhaps we should consider if the ‘evidence’ the judge based her ruling on could be considered balanced and gave her a wider picture the controversy surrounding MMR, or was it based on her own personal views and government propaganda. We can hardly consider judges in such positions to be unbiased in their rulings when they are agents of the state and apply state agendas.
Rulings such as these restrict personal choice and decisions based on our own knowledge and perceptions. There was no indication that the mother of the children was in any way oppressive or abusive towards them. The father initially agreed that their daughters should not receive the MMR vaccine, yet decided to change his mind once he had split from the mother. It is possible that the children were being used in a personal vendetta – something which the judicial system should not become embroiled in when there is a matter of personal choice involved. If there was a case based on abuse and purposeful harm, then that would be a different matter.
We should ask ourselves what impression this event has left the two girls with. Future ‘citizens’ who are about to enter a period of their own discovery of the world.
Perhaps we should consider how long it will be before any personal opinion which is in opposition to the state’s agenda will be decided by a pseudo-judge who is nothing more than an agent of the system (although there are a few exceptions of course).