While the fire that is the vaccine debate continues to burn in the United States, the death of an unvaccinated toddler has flared the dialogue in Canada and landed the young boy’s parents in court.
On March 5, the Canadian government opened its trial against David and Collet Stephan. The young couple, who oppose the use of vaccinations, are being charged with failing to provide their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel Stephan, with the necessaries of life.
Canadian prosecutors allege that the couple refused to take their sickly infant child to a doctor and instead opted for home and herbal remedies—including smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish, onion and apple cider vinegar. Further, prosecutors believe the couple ignored warnings from a family friend and nurse and, as the child’s conditions worsened, sought out a naturopath—or a holistic doctor who favors alternative medicine—in pursuit of an herb, as opposed to a traditional medical remedy from a licensed doctor.
When Ezekiel’s conditions deteriorated to the point of dire straits, the Stephan’s rushed the boy to the hospital but it was too late. The child was determined to have been suffering from two conditions, bacterial meningitis and empyema, each of which can be cured with antibiotics.
Prosecutors have been clear that they believe the boy was loved and cherished by his family, but draw the line at negligence, and believe the parents did not take the steps they could have to save their child’s life.
The anti-vaccine movement is on the rise in the U.S. and Canada and has been fueled, in part, by Jenny McCarthy, who, in 2012, published the book “The Panic Virus,” which held itself out as examining the link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Not only is that connection a myth, but McCarthy’s book relied on a sham study by Andrew Wakefield, an infamous anti-vaccer whose work has been discredited and deemed fraudulent.
If the Stephan’s are convicted, they could face up to a five year prison term. The trial is expected to conclude next week.
[Screengrab via WashingtonPost]