An Indianapolis mother, who was previously found to be in contempt of court for trying to circumvent the custody agreement that required her daughter be vaccinated, was found to have “knowingly and willfully” violated an Indiana Court of Appeals order that gave the father the sole ability make decisions about vaccinating the child.
Marion Superior Judge Heather Welch issued the order Tuesday, denying the mother’s motion to modify legal custody as it pertains to vaccinations.
The mother, S.W., entered into an Agreed Decree of Paternity with the father, J.B., after the pair had a child out of wedlock. Under the terms of the decree, the child would be vaccinated if she enrolled in a school that required all students to be immunized. Without the father’s consent, the mother signed a form claiming a religious objection to vaccinations and the child began attending the school unvaccinated.
In In Re the Paternity of: G.G.B.W., a Minor Child, J.B. v. S.W., 49A04-1611-JP-2474, the Indiana Court of Appeals found the mother personally disagrees with vaccinations but did not have a valid religious objection because her Episcopalian faith does not object to immunizations. However, the key issue was that under the decree, the mother was not entitled to invoke a religious objection and the appellate court found her in contempt for submitting the religious exemption form to circumvent the custody agreement.
After the Court of Appeals gave the father sole custody related to vaccinations, the mother took the child to Dr. Fetters (the court order does not provide his first name) and requested a medical exemption. According to the Marion Superior Court order, the father did not learn of the appointment with Fetters until he read about it in the pleadings filed in this case.
Fetters, who is not board certified, told the court most of his practice is for elderly and adult patients, and he does not follow the standard of care but practices “functional medicine.” The court order states the mother sought a physician who would be likely recommend against vaccinating her child.
While mother’s experts, including Fetters, testified that the child has a health condition that means she should not be vaccinated, the court found the testimony was not credible. It accepted the testimony of the father’s experts, who maintained it was in the child’s best interest to be vaccinated.
In denying the mother’s motion to modify legal custody as to vaccinations, Welch wrote, “The Court hereby finds that the Mother knowingly and willfully violated the Court of Appeals Order granting the Father sole legal custody over vaccinations for the minor child when she took the child to see Dr. Fetters without consulting the Father.”
The Marion Superior Court ordered the mother to cooperate with the father in having their child vaccinated. It also prohibited the mother from interfering with the immunization or undermining the father.