Catholic Mom Sues New York City So She Doesn’t Have to Vaccinate Her Kid

I really have to steal the title of Jezebel’s post on this subject:


Cut the Shit and Vaccinate Your Kid

Dina Check, a Catholic mother from Staten Island, is suing New York’s Department of Education because they did not grant a religious exemption to vaccination for her five-year-old daughter.

Her reasoning serves as a handy guide to why people should not be making their health decisions based on their religious beliefs:

In her exemption request to school officials, Check described herself as a Bible-reading, church-going Catholic who believes “life is a gift from God and the body is a marvelous work of divine creation to be reverenced as a temple of God.”

“To inject invasive and unnatural substances into this divine creation is showing a lack of faith in God and His way,” Check wrote.

Oh, brother.

I guess she forgot that “God’s way” involved thousands of years of people dying horrible deaths from smallpox and the plague.

Seriously, lady, you are the worst.

Oh! She also played the religious exemption card after they gave her a big ole N-O when she applied for a medical exemption for her daughter’s gastrointestinal problems.

This crap needs to stop. I don’t care what God you believe in, you do not get to put an entire population at risk because you think that a shot is going to dent your soul. I mean, whooping cough is on the rise.  Whooping cough. Is on the RISE! THE RISE!! Selfish assholes like Check are messing with herd immunity, and it is pathetic.

Remember polio? Ccases of polio have decreased 99% since 1988.  It’s been eradicated in the U.S. Do you think it’s because God was all of a sudden bored with crippling young kids?

Damn straight.

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • gg

    Had her child been enrolled in a CATHOLIC school, he child would have HAD to be fully immunized to attend.

  • Conspirator

    I’ve never heard of this as a Catholic thing before. I don’t think she’ll get any backing from the church on this one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

      Then you are a little uninformed of history. During the pandemic outbreaks in Canada in the late 1800s it was the French Catholic priests who screamed loudest about vaccines being anti-Christian, and their idiot flocks who had to be rounded up and forcefully vaccinated and/or quarantined.

      • Don Pope

        Well, that was over 200 years ago. It is definitely not Catholic dogma now.

      • McAtheist

        Yes, but thankfully we have fixed that now. The Canadian constitution forbids the forced medication of their citizens, even if they are the ‘idiot’ flock in the local catholic church.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Ah, so you’re a-ok with idiots spreading a smallpox epidemic. That seems worse than forcing people to get vaccinated …

          • Baby_Raptor

            But all that matters is that the big, bad government isn’t forcing people to do something. That’s what’s important; who gives two shits about social responsibility or peoples’ health?

            • jim dorey

              surplus population has to be managed somehow.

      • McAtheist

        Yes, but thankfully we have fixed that now. The Canadian constitution forbids the forced medication of their citizens, even if they are the ‘idiot’ flock in the local catholic church.

  • Fargofan

    “Unnatural substances”? Lady, your car is unnatural. The phone is unnatural. The Internet is unnatural. (Stupidity, though, is 100% organic.)

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      I bet she wears glasses….

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      I bet she dyes her hair.

    • Michael

      I bet she cooks her food.

    • slantrhyme

      I bet she gives out shit candy at Halloween….

    • Just So

      O.K., vaccinate.
      But why does the parent have to sign a waiver of liability if there is a bad reaction? (Like they do at our school.)
      If there is a problem with the vaccination, shouldn’t the school and the manufacturer share the consequences?

      • Kengi

        If there is a reaction, it almost certainly wouldn’t be the fault of the school or the manufacturer. The extremely rare reaction to a common vaccine they are talking about in such waivers is not caused by anything the school or manufacture does wrong.

        If the school or manufacturer actually does something to cause harm that is not part of the normal safe vaccine (not sure what that would be in the case of the school, but let’s say the manufacturer actually made a bad batch of vaccine), there is a special vaccine court which has authority to hear the case and grant judgement and damages.

        So, if there is a “problem with the vaccine”, the vaccine court will award damages rather than a regular court. Still not sure why the school should be required to share in such damages. It’s not like the school would ever be qualified to test the vaccine before administration. I suppose if the school brought in an unqualified organization to administer the vaccine they could be held liable. But if they did that, the administrators would have committed a felony and any waiver they made you sign as part of that felony wouldn’t apply.

        • McAtheist

          If the school forces a student to do something that causes he/she harm, why should they not be liable?

          In my world and work experience a request for waiver of liability simply means “We know this will end badly in some cases, there might even be a major clusterfuck, but there is no way we will take responsibility, we have our money, you are on your own.”

          Otherwise why ask for a waiver?

          • Kengi

            I can’t speak to any waiver’s from your personal experience unless you provide more information.

            Generally with waivers, and specifically in the case of vaccine waivers, you are acknowledging the awareness of a normal risk and agreeing to not sue over results of that normal risk. You are not waiving your rights to sue for negligence. Again, parents do sue and are awarded damages over vaccines (using the special vaccine court) when there has been negligence. The waiver they signed didn’t protect the pharmaceutics company from being responsible for negligence.

            If you skydive you also sign a waiver against normal accidents (say you getting caught in a downdraft). You (or your family) can still sue if there was enough negligence which was the cause of any accident (ie. the company failing to maintain the fabric used in the parachute according to industry standards).

            The waiver is a way for any nuisance case to be dismissed by a judge before an expensive and resource consuming case goes to court.

            In the case of vaccines, there were legions of morons who blamed vaccines for everything that happened to their children for the next several years. The science has already established those claims to be nonsense, so people sign a waiver so they can’t sue for those nonsense reasons.

            Check the laws in your state regarding what rights you still have after signing any waiver. Like the so-called “shrink-wrap” EULA;s, there are limits on what rights are being waived no matter the wording on the waiver. If you believe you have been unfairly treated after signing an employment waiver, then seek advice from an employment lawyer or free clinic. The Department of Labor also has some resources available.

            As for the school, they are following the guidelines set by the FDA, CDC, AMA and all other respectable medical organizations. Often they are doing so by a specific law from a local government or rule established by a local government agency. They should not be liable for following government rules or laws, nor for adequately following established guidelines. They should only be held responsible for negligence.

            • McAtheist

              Interesting,

              you can’t address my comments without ‘more information’, Then we get a couple of hundred words of your comments, stating ‘facts’ (I like the fact about the legion of morons’), and your (unusual) legal opinions, and of course you tell us exactly what (and why) the school did what it did……all without ‘further information’ and/or citations from you.

              I repeat:

              A request for waiver of liability simply means “We know this will end badly in some cases, there might even be a major clusterfuck, but there is no way we will take responsibility, we have our money, you are on your own.”

              Your examples don’t hold up, nobody is forced to go skydiving by their school. And, I don’t need to check State regulations, I live in Canada where thankfully it is a violation of our laws to force medical procedures on our citizens.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Because even though we know that vaccinations will occasionally end badly (~1 in a million), the societal rewards for vaccination are so overwhelming that we force people to do it anyway. The vaccination court was set up to deal with those few people who do have bad reactions, so you’re not allowed to double- or triple-dip with lawsuits (you can’t sue the school and the manufacturer and get compensation from the vaccine court). In other words, don’t sue the school when there’s already a system in place to compensate people for the rare but inevitable bad outcomes. It’s not callousness that leads to those waivers, so stop implying that the school should not have them.

                And I’m very sorry for Canada that it doesn’t require vaccinations, if that’s even true (Canada is usually more sane than the US …). I wonder how many people (mostly infants) die each year of measles, whooping cough, diptheria, and tetanus who didn’t have to.

              • Kengi

                Try reading for content. I said I couldn’t address your specific problems with your work-related waivers which you brought up without more information

                I also, patiently, explained the circumstances and conditions for the common school waivers which, apparently, you ignored.

                As for “forcing medical procedures”, in the United States, adults can refuse vaccines for themselves, and parents can even refuse vaccinations for their children, but not if they want them to attend a school which requires them.

                If the school is private, they are allowed to make reasonable requests such as requiring vaccinations as a precondition for attendance. That’s a result of the laissez-faire capitalism we have. If the school is public, the government has a responsibility to protect all students, which means promoting sensible health requirements such as requiring vaccinations. (It also allows for hygiene rules to be enforced.)

                You also use the “forcing medical procedures” phrase loosely. When discussing children who are not yet at the age of consent for common contracts, in the United States we have laws which can “force” medical procedures on children against their parent’s wishes to protect the child. Doesn’t Canada protect its children from parents who refuse life-saving medical treatments for their children?

                You want a citation for the legions for morons? Here you go:

                http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp078168

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17168158

                The first supports the “legions” fact and the second supports the “morons” fact.

                Vaccinations programs can be effective without 100% participation, but the percentage still needs to be quite high to reach herd immunity levels. Back when such programs were first introduced in the US, no one thought there would be morons who rejected vaccines for invalid medical reasons, so, in addition to valid medical reasons, exceptions for religious reasons were allowed since the tiny number of people that involved wouldn’t affect herd immunity.

                It turns out we underestimated the ignorance of the general public, so now we have far too many morons like the mother in this article which is affecting vaccination levels enough to damage herd immunity.

                Again, you were the one who compared waivers which you signed for business employment purposes (in Canada, apparently) to the school vaccine waivers in the United States. I provided some general perspectives on waivers in business (in the US) without getting specific about the waivers you mentioned (since you didn’t provide details). A couple of people now have addressed school vaccination waivers in detail, yet you take the typical anti-reason argument tactic of claiming that no one has addressed your “questions”. I’ll assume that you didn’t really have a valid question and simply want to rant about how unjust something is without actually understanding the issues involved.

                I gave you very specific justifications for limiting school liability in vaccination programs. I’ll repeat:

                The schools are following the guidelines set by the FDA, CDC, AMA and all other respectable medical organizations. Often they are doing so by a specific law from a local government or rule established by a local government agency. They should not be liable for following government rules or laws, nor for adequately following established guidelines. They should only be held responsible for negligence.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

            And if the child brings a disease to school and gets others sick, will they be held liable?

      • Baby_Raptor

        Assuming I’m reading your meaning of “problem with the vaccination,” why would the school get any crap?

        Aim your ire (and any legal action you might have) at the people who made the vaccine. The school had nothing to do with that; they assumed in good faith that the vaccines would be safe and aren’t requiring them for any sort of profit.

        If you meant something else, ignore my comment.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I guess ingesting supernatural is ok?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    As long as she never lets her kid around other kids and it never leaves the house, I’m 100% ok with this.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ginny-Ellsworth/534496198 Ginny Ellsworth

      Are you really? Don’t forget that in all this religious claptrap is a child whose health is endangered because of a superstitious parent. I am NOT okay with that. The establishment clause of the Constitution was not meant to protect parents who want to put their children at risk.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        I’m not ok with it either but if the mother chooses not to vaccinate her child then keep that child in the house 24/7 until she does.

    • McAtheist

      Hey Kevin,

      do you mean that if a parent chooses not to vaccinate their child that the child should be imprisoned for life?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        If she doesn’t want to properly vaccinate her child by all means, keep her as far away as she can from the rest of the world.

        • McAtheist

          Jeebus kevin, read your own posts again to see how freaking scary you are.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

            Feel free to send your child over to play with her then but don’t bitch if they catch something.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Why should I or my children pay the price for this woman’s idiocy? If you’re going to opt out of protecting society one way, protect society the other way. Non-vaccination or isolation: both ways the kid pays for the mom’s stupidity, but at least the second way the rest of society is protected.

            Obviously this is tongue-in-cheek. Obviously I don’t recommend forcing isolation. But vaccinations exist for a damned good reason and it is to everyone’s benefit to see them be as widespread as possible. When vaccination rates fall, disease rates go up. It’s in everyone’s interest to see this not happen, so that means mandating vaccinations. It’s why we mandate taxes, after all- everyone is better off if everyone pays, but no one will pay if it’s optional. Same goes for vaccinations.

          • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

            Maybe they could wear a sign around their necks that says “PLAGUEBEARER”.

  • WallofSleep

    *Sigh* I’ve given up on the 21st century. I’d just be happy if we all agreed to move on to the 20th century.

  • Baby_Raptor

    In a couple years, we’ll be hearing about how this poor child is dead due to lack of health care thanks to Mommy refusing to take her to a doctor because God.

    It’s funny. When it comes to marriage equality, we constantly hear screaming about how a child has a “right” to a mother and a father. But you never hear about how children have the right to a basic, BS free education, or to basic, BS free healthcare, or to not be beaten…It seems children are property here in the US, not people.

  • http://twitter.com/msmarph Mike

    I’m ok with it so long as she agrees to limit her other healthcare choices to what was available 2500 yrs ago.

  • http://twitter.com/msmarph Mike

    Where can I get that Science It Works…bumper sticker?

  • anniewhoo

    I was raised Catholic and never, ever heard of withholding vaccines for religious reasons. This is not a Catholic thing, but someone who has fallen prey to the incredibly outspoken and influential (to some) anti-vaxers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    You know, I hope immortality takes form before I die — I want to laugh about this current generation’s stupidity with future generations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1351473675 Matthew Baker

    Vaccine related news is always a supper crank magnet –neodymium strong. It can pull anti-vaccer out of coma so they can post links to bad science. Just check out the comments on the News articles-wow.

  • Kellen Frank

    If you insist upon igniting modern science, I suppose we must give you that right; but don’t screw your kids over.

  • Friendly_Autist

    If she’ll insist on ignoring modern science and its advantages, I suppose she has that right. But she can’t do that to here daughter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1353603101 Joe Montoto

    She should move to Africa or Afghanistan where she’d fit right in!

    • Thackerie

      But, first, she would have to get the vaccinations that are legally required for Americans traveling abroad.

  • guest

    I used to be a catholic and her reasoning is absolut BS and not in line with the catholic church (as bad as they are). but maybe I was just a bad catholic. who knows.

  • http://twitter.com/GayAtheistLH GayAtheistLeftHanded

    She’s a stupid bitch! Oh, I’m Sorry. Was that not a “Christian” think to say?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Well, it wasn’t “Christian”, but it did include a gendered slur…

      • Thackerie

        What? You’ve never met any male bitches? We should all be so lucky.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          “Bitch” is still a gendered insult, even applied to men. “Bitch” carries connotations of whiny, screechy, manipulative, and other common female-stereotyped negative traits. When applied to men, it also implies submissiveness or at least not-alpha status (ie, “real men” aren’t bitches because bitches (women) aren’t in charge).

  • Whitney

    I would guess that it’s too much to hope she can be investigated for child abuse, huh?

  • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

    I heard the Somali School District doesn’t require vaccinations.

    • McAtheist

      What’s your point? Neither do Canadian public schools.

      • Katwise

        I think you missed the sarcasm.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    There’s nothing in Catholic doctrine — even the really hard-core stuff — that prohibits or limits vaccination.

  • Miss_Beara

    I went to a Catholic grade school and high school and we had to have our vaccinations. She is just making crap up. Another one of those “I read somewhere that vaccinations are evil and useless” morons.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mankysteve Stephen Rowley

    I’ve never understood this logic surely if everything that happens8 is part if gods plan then surely vaccines are part of gods plan?

    • Baby_Raptor

      they can’t let themselves think that line of logic through to it’s conclusion, because it would mean admitting God would be okay with things they aren’t, such as abortion, and God has to hold their personal views.

  • Gail

    I have no problem with people making an informed choice not to vaccinate. If you can present reasonable argument, so be it. The problem I have is when states are allowing exemptions for religious reasons, but not for evidence-based reasons. Why should one’s belief in an invisible deity carry more weight than one’s research on the vaccination safety?

  • John of Indiana

    Gee, sure hope her kid doesn’t develop insulin-dependent diabetes…

  • Greg G.

    Vaccination isn’t natural but dying of measles is quite natural. She is willing to make that choice in the 21st century.

  • themspugnaciouswords

    “When Check re-applied under religious beliefs, officials said she only did so after losing on medical grounds, the lawsuit claims.” It sounds to me like she only starting throwing the religion card around when her “medical reasons” of “gastrointestinal problems” failed scrutiny. Apparently part of the MMR anti-vaccine conspiracy is that the shot also causes gastrointestinal problems, especially Crohn’s disease. This doesn’t seem fully religiously motivated, but rather that she is covering her belief in pseudoscience with her belief in the supernatural (funny how the two abet each other).

    • Tom

      Wasn’t that a part of the original Wakefield fraud that triggered this whole panic in the first place? I recall hearing something, in the dim and distant past, about a hypothetical chain of causality; that the vaccine caused gastrointestinal problems, and they in turn had some kind of effect on brain development.

      • Noelle

        Wakefield’s original “study” looked at colon biopsies of a handful of children who had both GI symptoms and an autism-like developmental disorder. He claimed the pathology showed a measles-like molecule in these tissue samples. He did not have a control group. He made no scientific effort to show this molecule was in any was associated with the MMR vaccine.

        It was later discovered that even this shaky data in a poorly-designed study was completely fabricated. He is a vile man who is responsible for the horrible illnesses and deaths of countless unvaccinated children, and for setting back real Autism research. What he did was absolutely deplorable.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i understand the anti-vaxxers, i really do. in rare cases some children react very poorly to vaccines and have health problems. it’s fine and good to say “the risk is worth it” but how would feel if it was your child in that .05%?

    it’s also the case that right now, Big Pharma is pushing drugs on the market with the weakest regulatory environment we’ve had in a long time. thanks GW Bush, you asshole.

    the religious exemption is bullshit, of course, and people who risk their children’s lives because of gawd’s will should be put in jail.

    but of course, i do advocate for mandatory vaccinations for children and i think they state should pay for it, so poor kids get them too. the risks of these diseases returning is too great for me to want anything else.

    • Tom

      I’d still feel that the risk had been worth it; I’d just be pissed that my child was spectacularly unlucky. Taking a risk with odds overwhelmingly in your favour is generally a good idea; it doesn’t suddenly cease to have been a good idea if it still didn’t pay off. Conversely, even if you win the lottery, it was foolish to play. That’s how statistics works; the odds don’t change after the event from what they were before. A good idea that just didn’t work is not automatically a bad idea.

      Many non-religious anti-vaxxers accuse the pro-vaccination crowd of believing that they don’t care about their children because they don’t vaccinate. We know they care a great deal about their children, that’s what makes them so wary of medical procedures they don’t understand, but that’s just the point – they care, they want to make the right decision, but it seems most of them can’t, don’t or won’t understand the science and statistics upon which that decision should be based. They seem to get the impression that we think they’re bad people, implying that they deliberately make the wrong choice – they’re not bad, they’re just scared of risk and the unknown and, lacking the tools to handle that, probably falling back on instinct – and unfortunately, neither fight nor flight leads to the right answer in this case. I would suspect they’re mostly victims of a poor education; we do know that a sizeable proportion have also been actively misinformed.

      As for the subset of anti-vaxxers who are religious kooks, who understand the science and statistics perfectly well but reject vaccination based on religious dogma, well, one could possibly make the case that they’re bad people – again maybe not deliberately, they’ve just had their sense of moral priorities severely warped, which is what religions have a nasty tendency to do to people.

      • Noelle

        I’ve yet to meet a anti-vaxer, religious or non, have a good understanding of immunology, infectious disease, or epidemiology. They do seem to share the same love of pseudo-science, rumor, and nutty stuff said by an authority they do trust who also does not understand science.

        In the U.S., it’d be a huge help if religious leaders, homeopaths, naturalopaths, celebrities, and Oprah would speak up for the benefits of vaccination. Our states with the highest vaccine-refusal rates by parents for children are in states like Oregon and Vermont, who pride themselves on being all smart and liberal and extra-super-healthy-organic-granola-eating-riding-the-latest-trend crowd. Your bible-belt states generally have very low vaccine-refusal rates. Claiming Christianity as a religious exception doesn’t stand up.

        New York must have stricter rules. Many states allow for refusal for philosphic-only reasons. I don’t understand why this is tolerated. For a consenting adult, fine. But a child is at the mercy of his or her guardians. We take parents to court when it comes to chemo for kids with leukemia and blood transfusions for JW kids. There’s no good reason why this should be treated differently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Evans/100000619020207 David Evans

    God created atoms. Atoms are a gift from God and a marvelous work of divine creation. Vaccines are made of 100% pure atoms. Guaranteed.

    End of story.

    • Kengi

      Can you be sure they haven’t been contaminated by any dark matter?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Evans/100000619020207 David Evans

    God created atoms. Atoms are a gift from God and a marvelous work of divine creation. Vaccines are made of 100% pure atoms. Guaranteed.

    End of story.

  • ecolt

    I think if you don’t want to vaccinate your kids that’s your choice. Your stupid, illogical, dangerous choice. You want to see you kids die of a preventable disease? Take that risk. But if you’re going to be that outstandingly selfish and short-sighted, you should be obligated to home-school. I don’t want my stepkids, or anyone else’s kids, being exposed to some insane new strain of a disease that has only cropped up because it has willing hosts in people like Check’s kids (actually, the kid isn’t willing, this is just the mother’s stupid selfishness threatening her child’s life). If your kid isn’t vaccinated against anything more threatening than the flu, I don’t want her near my family. Keep her at home.

  • SeekerLancer

    Do you buy food at a grocery store? Why not just let god drop it off at your doorstep. On that note why live in a house? Have faith in god that he’ll keep you warm and sheltered from the elements. Also I hope you don’t own any insurance policies, that would be like slapping god in the face!

  • Phil

    This may already happen, but failure to vaccinate should be grounds for disqualification for medical coverage for whatever preventable condition your kid contracts. Nothing speaks louder than the almighty dollar. Your kid develops measles, etc., it’s going to be out of pocket for you due to your stupidity. Potentially being on the hook for $100K+ might quickly change your mind.

  • cipher

    Her reasoning serves as a handy guide to why people should not be making their health decisions based on their religious beliefs

    Please. They shouldn’t be reproducing in the first place.

  • FishMonakey

    IMO her kid should be quarantined till she get the kids her shots.

  • jim dorey

    if the catholic church doesn’t have prohibitions… then stating she’s catholic would invalidate her exemption request, even if she didn’t loon out on the request form.

  • Dr. Claire (Ph.D. in Genetics)

    My son got Whooping cough earlier this year. Yes, he had been vaccinated, but if children come into contact with a very virrulent person after vaccination, they can get it. I didn’t even know Whooping Cough still existed outside of freak occurances. I was extreemly worried, but the hospital was set up to deal with it because THERE WERE SO MANY CASES AROUND HERE. (Maryland). This is sick and just wrong.

  • Thisguy2123

    You guys should look in to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As a sex thing is taking it too far but the shots are bad for you and I’m not convexity my children either


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