However, after 20 days, the judge withdrew his original order "based on the absence of a pleading or hearing on serious endangerment."
In what seems to be the first case ever, a judge decided that a woman shouldn't be allowed to see her 11-year-old son until she decides to get vaccinated. Cook County Judge James Shapiro at Chicago’s Daley Center told Rebecca Firlit that unless she gets her shots against COVID-19, her child visitation rights will be revoked, according to Chicago Sun-Times. During the child support hearing via Zoom, the judge asked Firlit if she had gotten jabbed, and the moment she said no, he ruled that she shouldn't be allowed to see her son until she does so.
The incident took place on August 10, 2021, and Firlit says this issue wasn't raised by her ex-husband, but by the judge himself. Firlit's attorney Annette Fernholz said her client and the ex-husband have been divorced for seven years and the two share custody of their son.
In what all parties agree is a very unusual and perhaps unprecedented step, a judge at Chicago’s Daley Center has stripped Rebecca Firlit of custody because she refuses to get a vaccination shot.— Jack Murphy 🇺🇸 ⚔️ (@jackmurphylive) August 28, 2021
“I’ve had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past and was advised not to get vaccinated by my doctor. It poses a risk,” the 39-year-old desk clerk said, adding that the question caught her completely off guard. “One of the first things he asked me when I got on the Zoom call was whether or not I was vaccinated, which threw me off because I asked him what it had to do with the hearing,” Firlit said.
“I was confused because it 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.’” His statement left her in utter disbelief and said she believes it was because Judge Shapiro was frustrated as the hearing took several hours, and attorneys were going to ask for a continuance. Her attorney hopes that an appellate court gets involved this week and reverses Shapiro’s ruling. “It’s very much exceeding his judicial authority,” she said.
Until then, she is forced to talk to her son over the phone. “I talk to him every day. He cries, he misses me. I send him care packages.”
Rebecca Firlit told the judge she did not receive the vaccine because of adverse reactions she has had to other vaccines.— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) August 28, 2021
He then ordered her to be stripped of her parental right to visit her son until she has been vaccinated against COVID-19.https://t.co/s0k8xjNRVE
"I miss my son more than anything. It's been very difficult. I haven't seen him since August 10th," Firlit told FOX 32 News in an exclusive interview. But, Jeffrey Leving, who represents the boy’s father, said they will fight Firlit's appeal as they support the judge's decision. "There are children who have died because of COVID," Leving said. "I think every child should be safe. And I agree that the mother should be vaccinated."
Despite that, Firlit said she’s confident she will prevail. “I feel like this will resonate with people because this is how things will go if we don’t speak up. Dividing families, taking children from their parents, we have to speak out to make sure this is not the new thing. Unfortunately, I had to be the first person that this happened to, but parents aren’t going to stand for that,” she said.
Well, it looks like she did, because the judge has reportedly withdrawn his ruling. A court spokesperson says they cannot comment on pending or impending cases, but according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the judge, on August 30, 2021, vacated his original order "based on the absence of a pleading or hearing on serious endangerment."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | FOX 32 Chicago ('Exceeds his jurisdiction': Chicago judge strips child custody from unvaccinated mother)