An Illinois mother says a judge stripped her of custody of her son earlier this month because she is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
During a child support hearing on Aug. 10, Cook County Judge James Shapiro asked Rebecca Firlit, 39, whether she is vaccinated against COVID-19. After learning that Firlit did not receive this vaccine, Shapiro barred her from seeing her 11-year-old son, according to Fox 32.
“I miss my son more than anything. It’s been very difficult. I haven’t seen him since August 10th,” Firlit told Fox 32.
For seven years, Firlit shared custody of her child with her ex-husband, the mother’s attorney, Annette Fernholz, told the Chicago Sun-Times. Firlit’s ex-husband did not ask the judge to consider Firlit’s vaccination status, and the judge’s decision surprised even the father’s attorney.
“The father did not even bring this issue before the court,” Fernholz told The Washington Post. “So it’s the judge on his own and making this decision that you can’t see your child until you’re vaccinated.”
Firlit told the judge that a doctor advised her against getting the vaccine because of her “adverse reactions to vaccines in the past,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“In this case you have a judge, without any matter before him regarding the parenting time with the child deciding ‘Oh, you’re not vaccinated. You don’t get to see your child until you are vaccinated.’ That kind of exceeds his jurisdiction,” Fernholz told Fox 32.
Firlit is appealing this decision, and even Jeffrey Leving, the attorney representing the father, said the decision surprised him, according to Fox 32. (RELATED: Dutch Man Attempting To Attend Custody Hearing In US Detained For Illegally Crossing Southern Border)
Surprise aside, Leving proceeded to state, “There are children who have died because of COVID. I think every child should be safe. And I agree that the mother should be vaccinated.”
Since the start of the pandemic, 454 children have died of COVID-19 as of Aug. 25, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 4.5 million children contracted the virus, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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