Parents Charged with Toddler's Death After Refusing to Vaccinate

A 19-month-old boy died from meningitis, an illness that can be prevented through vaccination.

A 19-month-old boy died from meningitis, an illness that can be prevented through vaccination.

David and Collet Stephan from Alberta, Canada, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide necessaries of life to their son, Ezekiel. The toddler passed away in March 2012 from meningitis.

The couple had told police that Ezekiel was sick for weeks with fever, runny nose, and difficulty breathing, according to CBC. Instead of taking the boy to a doctor, David and Collet used home remedies — such as water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries, and an apple cider vinegar/hot peppers/onion/garlic/ginger root/horse radish root mixture.

It was reported that the couple sought medical attention when he stopped breathing. Ezekiel was airlifted to a hospital and taken off of life support five days later, which was when he succumbed to his condition.

It has not been indicated whether Ezekiel had bacterial or viral meningitis, however, there are vaccines to prevent both.

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The couple took to Facebook to voice their story and opinions on vaccination — saying that the charges “contain an underlying motive.” Vaccinations are not mandatory in Canada. In the United States, each state establishes its own vaccination laws and some allow exemptions for religious and/or philosophical reasons. All states have medical exemptions.

“The apparent agenda… if you can’t force them to get vaccinated, compel them through fear of criminal prosecution,” the Facebook post said.

Image: Prayers for Ezekiel Facebook Page

It continued by saying that they received the autopsy report more than eight months after Ezekiel’s death. This is where the vaccination practices, or lack thereof, were described.

“What struck my mind is that the only reason this information would be included would be to fuel a vaccine battle within the courts,” the post continued (it appeared to have been written by David). The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) called the couple three months later, almost a year after their son’s death, to say they were being charged.

David and Collet are set to go back to court next week. They have three more children, and it’s fair to assume that they aren’t vaccinated either.

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