A family court in Kyushu stripped a woman of her parental rights after she refused a vaccination for her baby because a child welfare center was trying to arrange foster care for the abandoned infant, sources said Tuesday.
The court issued the decision in March, saying the mother’s denial to have the infant vaccinated was not on medical grounds or based on religious beliefs but was based on “an emotional response to staff of the child welfare center,” according to the sources.
The mother left the baby in front of their home last summer, and after being alerted, the welfare center judged the abandonment to be a case of neglect and took temporary custody of the child, the sources said.
The center then sought to place the child under the care of foster parents but the attempt was hindered because the baby had not been vaccinated, the sources said.
The center repeatedly sought parental consent as required for a child’s vaccination but its request was refused or went unanswered, prompting the center to bring the matter to the family court, according to the source.
Tetsuro Tsuzaki, head of the Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, said, “The decision is uncommon because one of the principal reasons was the refusal of vaccination,” unlike other cases based on sexual or other abuse.
“It’s a progressive judgment focused on the child’s welfare rather than parental rights,” he said.
The Civil Code in Japan stipulates parents may lose their rights over their children indefinitely if there are no prospects of abuse or other situations that undermine the interests of the children being mitigated within two years.
The court deprived the mother of the right, citing both her refusal to have the baby vaccinated and child neglect, the sources said. She was “substantially undermining the child’s interests by exposing the child to risks of contracting infectious diseases and hampering foster parent arrangements,” the court said.