Mum jailed for refusing to get son vaccinated

A Detroit mother who says she "cares deeply" for her children has been jailed and had her custody rights reduced after refusing to get one of them vaccinated.

Rebecca Bredow, 40, objects to vaccinations on religious grounds - which is allowed by most US states - but last year signed a legal agreement with her ex-husband to get their nine-year-old son up to date with his immunisations, reports CBS.

After failing to follow through with the promise, an Oakland County judge last week sentenced her to five days in prison for contempt of court. The boy was temporarily placed in the custody of his father James Horne, who made sure he was vaccinated.

Mr Horne was granted joint custody of the boy on Ms Bredow's release earlier this week. A small group of supporters gathered outside the courthouse, waving signs reading "freedom is not force" and comparing the fight against vaccines to the pro-choice movement.

"It was the worst five days of my life pretty much," she told the Detroit Free Press. "I just found out that he was vaccinated and I'm not going to get him back today. It's been a rough few days."

Before her stint behind bars, she told the Washington Post immunisation went against her religious beliefs.

"If my child was forced to be vaccinated, I couldn't bring myself to do it."

The judge said in that case, she shouldn't have signed the agreement with her ex-husband.

"I understand you love your children. But what I don't think you understand is that your son has two parents, and dad gets a say," said Judge Karen McDonald.

"It's clear to me that you don't care about orders even if you agree to them, which you did."

Ms Bredow plans to appeal her reduction in custody rights.

Rebecca Bredow's mugshot.
Rebecca Bredow's mugshot. Photo credit: Oakland County Sheriff's Office

Opposition to vaccines hit the mainstream in the late 1990s, when a now-debunked study by medical fraudster Andrew Wakefield claiming vaccines cause autism was published in a major medical journal The Lancet.

The Lancet later retracted the paper, calling it "utterly false". No studies since have been able to find any link between the MMR vaccine and autism.