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Judge restores parental rights to unvaccinated mom after revoking them

The judge also asked about another parent's vaccination status in an unrelated child support case.

Updated: August 30, 2021 - 11:44pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A Chicago mother's parental rights were restored after a judge revoked them because she wasn't vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cook County, Ill., Judge James Shapiro revoked parental custody from Rebecca Firlit earlier this month, preventing her from seeing her 11-year-old son because of "serious endangerment" since she had not received a COVID-19 vaccine, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Firlit and her ex-husband, who is vaccinated, have been divorced for seven years and are sharing custody of their son.

"I've had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past and was advised not to get vaccinated by my doctor," Firlit told the Sun-Times. "It poses a risk."

During a child support hearing over Zoom, Shapiro asked Firlit if she had been vaccinated. When Firlit said she hadn't, Shapiro took away her custody of her son until she received a COVID-19 vaccine.

"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 explained.

"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.'"

Following Shapiro's restoring of Firlit's parental rights, for which he gave no explanation, she told the Sun-Times, "I'm extremely happy, I'm going to see my son right now." Firlit added, "I know that they are going to say that I'm an endangerment to my son. This isn't over for me."

Although Firlit's ex-husband, Matthew Duiven, had not raised the issue of her vaccination, his lawyer said he supported the judge's decision to revoke her parental rights and will now continue the legal fight following their restoration.

In another, unrelated child support case, Shaprio also asked a parent if he was vaccinated against COVID-19, the Sun-Times found.