Saturday 27 December 2014

Parents in court battle over their son's MMR vaccination

Tim Healy and Dearbhail McDonald

Published 11/12/2012 | 05:00

THE estranged parents of a five-year-old boy have gone to court over whether the child should have vaccination shots.

The mother does not want him to have the MMR (which protects against measles, mumps and rubella) and 4-in-1 (diphtheria, whooping cough, polio and tetanus) booster shots – while the father does.

A High Court judge said he could not give a "snap judgment" in favour of or against the injections.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty directed the Attorney General be served with notice of the proceedings because of the constitutional arguments that arise.

Mr Justice Moriarty has already heard evidence from the mother, who does not want her son to have the vaccinations, and the father, who wants the injections to be given as speedily as possible.

The case comes weeks ahead of a challenge to the outcome of the children's rights referendum, whose main flashpoint was the test for the amount of state intervention in decisions affecting children.

The courts routinely allow hospitals to provide blood transfusions and life-saving treatment to children contrary to the religious beliefs of their parents, such as those of the Jehovah's Witness faith.

In this case, the parents hold opposing positions.

The District Court and Circuit Court have already ruled that the inoculations should proceed.

The case was before the High Court as a result of a legal challenge mounted by the mother.

Mr Justice Moriarty said after the child was born in 2007, he was immunised without dispute and no adverse reactions were reported.

The parents' relationship later broke down.

In February, the child was due to receive the two injections provided for under the HSE programme to children.

The mother had concerns about the substances included in the injections.

An impasse was reached and the District Court ruled that it was in the best interests of the child that the injections go ahead, Mr Justice Moriarty said.

The mother appealed the matter to the Circuit Court where the judge decided the injections were in the child's best interests.

Challenge

On the day the vaccination was to be administered, the mother applied to the High Court to be allowed legally challenge the decision.

Mr Justice Moriarty said the father, in evidence, had indicated although he felt strongly his son should have the injections, he would accept a verdict contrary to his wishes without seeking to take matters further.

The judge said he could not "simply furnish some form of snap judgment in favour of or against the injections. I am acutely conscious of the delay factor, and can only give my best assurance to the parties that I will do all possible on my part to expedite a just conclusion".

Irish Independent

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