Judge Reverses Ban That Prevented Unvaccinated Mother From Seeing Her Son

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
August 31, 2021 Updated: August 31, 2021

An Illinois judge on Monday reversed his previous decision to ban a divorced mother from seeing her 11-year-old son because she hasn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Cook County Judge James Shapiro earlier this month granted custody of the 11-year-old to Rebecca Firlit’s ex-husband Matthew Duiven, who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Firlit and her former husband have been divorced for seven years, and they previously shared custody. Monday’s ruling revoked an Aug. 10 order that blocked the 39-year-old mother from seeing her son, the news outlet reported.

“This court hereby VACATES paragraph 3 of its August 11, 2021 order based on the absence of a pleading or hearing on serious endangerment,” Shapiro’s order said.

The case gained national attention after Shapiro earlier this month asked Firlit during an online hearing whether she was inoculated. After learning that she was unvaccinated, the judge said she would not be allowed to see her son until she receives the vaccine.

“I was confused because it was just supposed to be about expenses and child support,” the mother told the Sun-Times. “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.’”

Firlit previously told the news outlet that she was advised by her doctor not to take the COVID-19 vaccine due to prior adverse reactions. It wasn’t clear whether these issues were made known to the judge.

After Monday’s reversal, the mother told the Sun-Times that she is “extremely happy.”

“I’m extremely happy, I’m going to see my son right now,” she said. “I know that they are going to say that I’m an endangerment to my son. This isn’t over for me.”

Her attorney, Annette Fernholz, previously told Fox 32 Chicago that Shapiro exceeded his authority with his initial decision.

“In this case you have a judge, without any matter before him regarding the parenting time with the child deciding ‘Oh, you’re not vaccinated. You don’t get to see your child until you are vaccinated.’ That kind of exceeds his jurisdiction,” Fernholz said.

Her ex-husband’s lawyer, Jeffrey Leving, called Monday’s reversal “unfortunate” and a mistake, adding that he was working on an emergency motion to “fight it.”

“My client is definitely planning on fighting the court’s decision because it’s important the mother be vaccinated,” added Leving, NBC Chicago reported.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.