Chicago Mother Loses Custody Of 11-Year-Old Son Because She Is Not Vaccinated

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Chicago Mom Loses Custody Of Son Because She's Not Vaccinated

A Chicago mother appealed a judge's decision to revoke her parental visiting rights after she told a virtual court she wasn't vaccinated against COVID-19.

Rebecca Firlit's custody of her 11-year-old son was temporarily withheld after a judge discovered her vaccination status during a hearing.

Why did a Chicago mom lose her parental rights? Because she isn't vaccinated.

On August 10th, Firlit and her ex-husband attended a virtual child support hearing to determine the terms of custody over their 11-year-old-son.

To everyone's surprise, Cook County Judge James Shapiro then asked Firlit about her vaccination status. 

"It had nothing to do with what we were talking about," Firlit said in an interview. "He was placing his views on me and taking my son away from me."

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Rebecca Firlit cited medical reasons for her refusal to get vaccinated. 

According to Firlit, she informed Shapiro she hadn't been vaccinated against COVID-19 as a result of adverse reactions she had to other vaccines in the past.

She said her doctor advised her against it as it "posed a risk." 

That's when the judge ordered her parental visitation rights to be revoked. They'd only be restored if she vaccinated herself. 

"I miss my son more than anything. It's been very difficult," Firlit told reporters. "I haven't seen him since August 10th." 

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Firlit's attorney thinks the judge crossed a line. 

Annette Fernholz, Firlit's attorney in the case, argued the judge's ruling "exceeds his jurisdiction." 

"You have to understand the father did not even bring this issue before the court," Fernholz added. "So it's the judge on his own and making this decision that you can't see your child until you're vaccinated." 

The child's father is vaccinated. 

The child's father supported the ruling. 

While Firlit's ex-husband and his attorney, Jeffrey Leving, were equally shocked by Shapiro's ruling, they were ultimately in agreement with the decision. 

"There are children who have died because of COVID," said Leving. "I think every child should be safe. And I agree that the mother should be vaccinated." 

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The ruling has been reversed and Firlit's parental rights were restored. 

The judge has now reversed the previous ruling, allowing Firlit to finally see her son in-person. Up until this point, she had only spoken to him on the phone and through video chat. 

Firlit's attorney had filed an appeal on Monday Aug 30, but the judge vacated his original ruling.

The previous ruling may set new legal precedents. 

There have already been unique cases across different states pertaining to vaccine regulations. An Ohio judge made news by ordering a man charged with a low-level felony to get vaccinated within two months, which became one of the conditions in the man's probation agreement. 

Leving believes the judge's ruling could signal a change in the way custody cases play out under vaccine mandates, though we have yet to hear about other cases such as Firlit's. 

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Yona Dervishi is a writer who is currently working at YourTango as an editorial intern. She covers topics pertaining to self-care, radical acceptance, news, and entertainment.