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Divorce Is Politics by Other Means 

10/30/17 11:29 AM

Carl von Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist who famously said: “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means,” (“Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln”). I leave the full parsing of its meaning to other military strategists. But, the quote serves as a useful segue to discuss how divorced parents sometimes use the medico-legal playing field to continue their battles. 

The Kagens were divorced in 2012. They were awarded joint legal and physical custody. As defined by their divorce judgment, neither parent was allowed to make major medical decisions relating to the children without consulting the other.  

Mom discontinued the daughters’ vaccinations when they were 3 and 5 years old respectively – long before the couple’s divorce. She asserted she maintained religious objections. She contended Dad shared those concerns. (Dad claimed he was blindsided by his ex-wife’s religious reformation and was unaware his kids had not received updated vaccines until 5 years later.) 

Over Mom’s objections, Dad secured four vaccinations for their eldest daughter in February, 2013.  Mom then filed a motion with the circuit court to prevent any further unilateral action by the father.  

The lower court excluded statements from government agencies supporting the benefits of vaccinations. These statements were submitted by the father to buttress his position. One these documents were excluded, the circuit court concluded that without supporting evidence, a change in course of conduct by Mom was not in the children’s best interests.  

Michigan appellate court overruled. 

Mom’s documents were deemed by the court to be inherently untrustworthy.  Mom submitted a Wikipedia article detailing a list of vaccine ingredients. The court ruled that anyone can update or edit a Wikipedia article. Mom submitted an article entitled, “Should Mickey and Minnie Mouse Be Vaccinated?” from Dr. Brownstein’s Holistic Medicine Blog.  The court held that a blog by its very nature is not akin to a formal and official statement presented by a government agency. An article from a doctor unconnected to any scientific study does not share the characteristics of trustworthiness necessary to be admitted. The court reached a similar conclusion for the snopes.com article – “On Gardasil.” Other articles were similarly rejected. 

What did pass the court’s filter? The father’s information from the CDC, FDA, and NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  The mother’s information from the National Vaccine Program Office and the CDC was also allowed. While warning readers of the potential risks associated with vaccinations, it revealed that severe and even moderate risks are rare and far outweighed by vaccine benefits. A letter from the children’s pediatrician recommended vaccinating the children and clearly enumerated which vaccinations the eldest daughter had yet to receive and were recommended specifically for her. The mother never argued that the children had ever experienced an allergic reaction to a vaccine. No evidence indicated that either child had a compromised immune system or a history of seizures which might have cautioned against the administration of vaccinations.  

The court ruled Dad could control the vaccination schedule. 

Sometimes divorced parents have legitimate philosophical differences on how to care for their children. Sometimes those philosophical differences contribute to their divorce. In this particular case, if the children had received vaccines according to the recommended schedule through the age of three, they would likely have already received baseline protection against the dangerous childhood diseases. A simpler path before bringing in lawyers and spending oodles of money might have been to obtain blood antibody titers demonstrating immunity. That, of course, is the desired outcome of vaccinations. This would not have addressed the issue of influenza vaccines (which did not appear to be the issue being litigated). And it would not have addressed the issues of Gardasil or meningococcus – which typically are addressed late teens.  

Maybe the battle over a medical issue was beside the point. 

Anyway, as a physician, be careful about getting sucked into the drama of divorced parents. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. But, it’s a vortex that can create a fair amount of collateral damage. 

Kagen v. Kagen, 2015 WL 4254993 (Mich.App., Jul. 14, 2015)

What do you think? Share your comments below. 


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Posted by Medical Justice | in Legal | 6 Comments »
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Armando Russo
Guest
Armando Russo

The subplot to the Kagen case is not so much about politics and warfare but about cultism. For some, fueled the Mrs to a desire to be oppositional to ideas, practices and culture. We generally think of this in terms of religion. However, in Western society in particular, we have witnessed cultism take other forms. One of them is the practice of medicine. The anti-vaccination movement has this quality and has, as its creed and messengers, information and spokespersons who, for their own motives, promote a counter-narrative. They talk about risks as if all risks have the same meaning. There… Read more »

Maek
Guest
Maek

Great article Dr. Segal, thank you again for so many wonderful articles that she’d light to your eyes and remind us of this bleeped up system. One problem here, because I am watching ..”a friend” go thru a divorce, is , it’s not about vaccines and what’s right or wrong but rather “CONTROL”. My “friend”, I have watched his agony as his wife uses the children as “pawns” and NOT donwhat is in the best interest of the children, but to piss off her ex and stir up a fight over “control” and create..THE WAR. We must remember the children… Read more »

Michael Rosenblatt,DPM
Guest
Michael Rosenblatt,DPM

In your efforts to survive at being a physician, you may not have the opportunity to evaluate the maelstrom of societal changes raging about you. What physician has the time to look at YouTube? One massive change has been 3rd Wave feminism which has taken over universities, popular Media and Hollywood. In essence modern feminism insists that females can have everything all together, including a powerful career, family and married life. Somehow these feminists have not correctly calculated the number of hours available in a day. This has led to many changes, but most common, much later child-birth and single… Read more »

Carla Schlissel
Guest
Carla Schlissel

In my opinion, the woman above was brainwashed into her “religious beliefs,” and she is dragging her husband into court simply because she has “a bug up her butt” and wishes to cause him grief and aggravation. It is the wise physician (and dentist) who stays out of this drama. Dr. Mark: what is a “rbis” and a “mahouts”? I realize you were typing quickly and didn’t reread what you wrote, but I’m at a loss as to what you intended to say here. Dr, Rosenblatt: It is always a pleasure to read your contributions. I generally find them to… Read more »

Carla Schlissel, DDS
Guest
Carla Schlissel, DDS

Dr. Segal: Thank you, once again, for an interesting case to demonstrate a point. I’m so glad that I stumbled upon your site years ago; I learn a great deal here and enjoy my time here immensely.

–CHS, DDS

EasyE
Guest
EasyE

With increased global travel, vaccines are important for preventing rare diseases from spreading here in the States. The increase in “mandatory” vaccines from 2011 -2017 is staggering, and some like Guardasil and HepB, may be unnecessary as recommended. The hospital wanted to vaccinate our newborn daughter with HepB before leaving the hospital 6 years ago, and we refused. In the above scenario, I believe both parents wanted what’s best for the child – many mothers are petrified by vaccines, especially when pediatricians typically schedule multiple per visit. Ever seen the ads on the inside cover of the Journal of Pediatrics?… Read more »