Should These Parents go to Jail for not Vaccinating Their Child?

A court case underway in the province of Alberta, Canada is investigating whether the parents of a deceased toddler deserve five years in jail for “failing to provide the necessities of life” for treating their ailing son with homeopathic remedies instead of taking him to a conventional doctor.

In February 2012, 18-month-old Ezekiel Stephan developed a fever and a runny nose. His mother, Colett, thought he was suffering from a common ailment like a cold, flu, or croup. She responded by treating him with a variety of home remedies to limit the severity of his illness such as water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries, and a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root.


Ezekiel Stephan and his mother Colett

A few weeks later, after Ezekiel had been showing signs of improvement, he started going in and out of consciousness. A worried Colett called her friend Terrie Meynders, a registered nurse, for advice. Meynders didn’t see anything wrong with Ezekiel, but raised the possibility of meningitis and suggested visiting a doctor.

On March 13, just under three weeks after Ezekiel first fell ill, he stopped breathing. His parents, who live in a small town, called paramedics. A local hospital was able to revive the boy, but by the time he arrived at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, he was likely already brain dead, and as a pediatrician testified in court, Ezekiel had a less than 1% chance of survival. He died there on March 18. An autopsy later revealed that Ezekiel had fallen ill due to a lung infection which developed into viral meningitis.

Provincial authorities laid charges against Ezekiel’s parents almost a year later in February 2013. In court, the prosecutors said that the couple clearly loved their son and are not accused of killing him, but they should have sought medical help sooner.


Ezekiel’s parents David and Collet leaving the courthouse with their lawyer

Colett and her husband David told police that their preference for naturopathic medicine is a result of their family’s past negative experiences with the medical system, and had never taken Ezekiel to see a medical doctor. David is the Vice President of Truehope, a company run by his father Anthony that sells multivitamins to treat mental illness.


Ezekiel’s grandfather Anthony Stephan, CEO of Truehope

None of David and Colett’s children have been vaccinated, and David believes this is the reason the province is taking him to court after so long. As he explains in a Facebook post, David believes the province wants to “create the legal precedent that when a child falls ill, parents who chose not to vaccinate have a greater onus to seek mainstream medical attention sooner than parents that do vaccinate, and if any harm befalls the non-vaccinated child from an illness that there was a vaccine for, the parents can be held criminally liable… bringing us one step closer to mandatory vaccinations. The apparent agenda… if you can’t force them to get vaccinated, compel them through fear of criminal prosecution.”

The anti-vaccination movement has struggled to gain legitimacy, a fact recently emphasized when Vaxxed, a controversial documentary supporting the position, was pulled from the lineup of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.

Critics of the anti-vaccine movement point to growing evidence that immunization is a matter of public health, such as a study published in March by researchers at Emory and Johns Hopkins Universities which found that the rise in both measles and whooping cough is directly attributable to vaccine refusal. The Center for Disease Control had previously declared measles eliminated from the United States in 2000.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -