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Chicago judge rules mom cannot see her 11-year-old son because she’s not vaccinated

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)
September 04, 2021

A judge in Chicago barred Rebecca Firlit, the mother of an 11-year-old boy, from seeing her son under partial parental custody because she is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ferlit is appealing the decision, claiming the judge was placing his views onto her.

“I’ve had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past and was advised not to get vaccinated by my doctor. It poses a risk,” Ferlit told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I was confused because (the hearing) was just supposed to be about expenses and child support. I asked him what it had to do with the hearing, and he said, ‘I am the judge, and I make the decisions for your case.’ “

Firlit’s lawyer, Annette Fernholz, told several Chicago media outlets that Firlit and her former husband have been divorced for seven years and that the ex-husband did not address the lack of vaccination as a problem. The two share custody.

Cook County Judge James Shapiro asked Firlit during a child support hearing over Zoom whether she was vaccinated. She said no, and the judge stripped her of all parenting rights until she receives the vaccination.

“The trial court clearly exceeded its authority in sua sponte (by its own accord) suspending the mother’s parenting time when the issue before the court was child support,” attorney Fernholz told Fox 32 in Chicago. “The father did not bring this issue before the court.”

Firlit told the Sun-Times she talks to her son every day over the phone. “He cries. He misses me. I send him care packages.”

The father’s attorney, Jeffery M. Leving, said he supported the judge’s decision. “There are children who have died because of COVID,” Leving told The Washington Post. “I think every child should be safe. And I agree that the mother should be vaccinated.”

Hospitals nationwide are reporting an increase in pediatric COVID-19 cases as the delta variant of coronavirus spreads, and health officials have urged those who are eligible to get vaccinated to protect others who cannot.

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(c) 2021 USA Today

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