Health Impact News Editor Comments
As we have reported frequently here at Health Impact News, State governments in the U.S. and countries around the world are trying to eliminate vaccine exemptions, and make all vaccinations mandatory, by force if necessary.
In those situations where legislative efforts fail, could vaccine extremists now have a different strategy by using the courts to prosecute parents who choose to not vaccinate their children, and then later their child comes in contact with an illness from which there is a vaccine in the market to allegedly prevent? If a child is found to have contracted chickenpox, for example, and their parents had chosen not to administer the chickenpox vaccine believing that natural immunity was better than the vaccine, could the threat of being criminally prosecuted for failing to vaccinate become a de facto method of forcing everyone to comply with mandatory vaccines?
In this report out of Canada, this exact scenario is being tried in the courts this week, where the tragic death of one family’s child is viewed by some as setting a precedent for the extremist pro-vaccine lobby. The Stephan family, leaders in the alternative health field in Canada, face time in prison and the removal of their remaining children for simply refusing to vaccinate their child who later died in a hospital that failed to save him. The authorities want the court to rule his death was preventable by a simple vaccine, something that could never be proven scientifically.
By Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News
Almost 4 years ago, the Stephan family experienced the tragic death of their son Ezekiel, just 18 months old at the time. Now, the Canadian government is prosecuting the parents, and the outcome of the trial could set a legal precedent that would have a devastating chilling effect on parental rights. David Stephan says that his family’s tragedy is being used to further an agenda that cannot be obtained by legislation under the Canadian Constitution, and the precedent could affect families all across Canada and even cross international borders.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, which is similar to the CDC in the U.S., has stated:
Unlike some countries, immunization is not mandatory in Canada; it cannot be made mandatory because of the Canadian Constitution. Only three provinces have legislation or regulations under their health-protection acts to require proof of immunization for school entrance. … It must be emphasized that, in these three provinces, exceptions are permitted for medical or religious grounds and reasons of conscience; legislation and regulations must not be interpreted to imply compulsory immunization. [Emphasis added]
Since Canada cannot legally compel her citizens to immunize, vaccine proponents have had to seek another way to achieve their goals. It appears that they may have found a back door to mandating vaccines, by prosecuting parents who choose not to vaccinate, thereby setting a judicial precedent if they win.
Vaccine Agenda Behind the Charges against Grieving Parents?
David and Collet Stephan have been charged with “failing to provide the necessities of life,” a charge that is similar to manslaughter, because they chose not to vaccinate their son. Even though there is no evidence that Ezekiel’s death would have been prevented if he were vaccinated, David says that the government of Canada has made it clear to the family that they intend to use the death of their son to accomplish an agenda. If successful, this could create a legal precedent through the courts, rather than through legislation, that would accomplish 2 things:
- Compel parents who have chosen not to vaccinate to seek traditional medical attention when their child gets sick sooner than parents who vaccinate, and
- Allow for criminal liability for parents if their non-vaccinated child suffers harm for any illness for which there is a vaccine.
The result of such a precedent, David writes, would be devastating:
If achieved, not only will this be a blow to the rights of Canadians, but will likely result in an already overburdened medical system becoming completely bogged down with parents needlessly flooding emergency rooms with mildly sick children out of fear of criminal prosecution.
David and his wife Collet will face trial for the next 4 weeks, beginning February 29. The trial is scheduled to end on the 4 year anniversary of the day that they buried their son. “How degraded we’ve become as humans,” David told Health Impact News, that people in the government have become so desensitized to human suffering as to look at other people “as objects – to further their agenda.”
Ezekiel Gets Sick, Health Goes Up and Down
Their nightmare began rather calmly in the last couple of days of February 2012. The 2 Stephan children, Ezekiel, 18 months, and Ezra, 4, were not vaccinated and had never really been sick, but that week Ezekiel came down with what appeared to be the croup, an illness that can usually be treated at home. By the end of the week, he appeared fine and back to himself.
He attended church on Sunday and went with his big brother to preschool on Monday. It may have been “too much, too soon,” because he appeared to relapse after being around so many people. His immune system was weakened from his illness the previous week, and his parents were concerned that he may have been exposed to something at church or preschool that he was having a tough time fighting off.
By mid-week, he showed signs of possible flu – he was achy and tired, but there was no fever. His parents are strong believers in natural remedies, and began treating Ezekiel with herbal, nutritional, and essential oil remedies.
Years before, David’s father co-founded Truehope, a company based on a line of micronutrient products, designed to treat mental health issues. Because of his family’s extensive background in research and nutritional products, David was well-versed in natural and alternative treatments. It was normal for his family to utilize natural modalities to strengthen the immune system and address illness as a first line of defense.
Throughout the next week, it appeared that illness was being held at bay. Ezekiel was still tired and achy but still had not developed any other symptoms, such as fever, cough, runny nose, or vomiting. He mainly wanted to snuggle with his parents and watch his favorite cartoons. By that Sunday, he seemed more tired than usual.
Practical Steps Taken
David and Collet considered taking him to a doctor, but were concerned about exposing him to other sick children. Instead, they asked a friend who is a nurse to come over and check on him. That was Monday, March 12. The nurse friend found that his vital signs were all normal, and that his lungs were clear.
However, she had recently seen a case of meningitis, so she mentioned that to the family. They considered that possibility, and researched meningitis. Ezekiel had none of the tell-tale signs of bacterial meningitis, such as a stiff neck, constant crying, bulging fontanel, seizures, or high fever. He had no fever at all. The symptoms could have been attributed to viral meningitis or the flu, but the viral form of meningitis is usually mild. According to the CDC, “most people usually get better on their own (without treatment).”
The nurse told them that there was nothing alarming about Ezekiel’s symptoms. The family considered going in to the hospital. However, Canada has a socialized medical system. The experience of many people has been that they have been turned away by hospitals when the symptoms are mild. The decision was made, instead, to keep watching Ezekiel and take him to the nearest hospital if his symptoms got worse. It seemed a prudent approach, the same decision that countless other parents in similar situations have made.
To their relief, he started acting like he was feeling better that night and through the next day. By Tuesday afternoon, he was more active than he had been all week, and it appeared that he was well. He had improved so much that they decided it would be all right for Collet to go to a church service that evening, leaving David with the boys.
Ezekiel Takes a Sudden Turn for the Worse
While she was gone, Ezekiel took a nap. At one point when his father checked in on Ezekiel, he noticed that he started having an odd breathing pattern. This was new. David let his wife know, and she came home from church right away.
While they were trying to figure out what was going on and discussing the possibility of taking him in to the hospital, their son suddenly stopped breathing. Alarmed, David called 911, while Collet administered CPR. He started breathing again, so the parents were instructed to call 911 again if anything changed.
They made the decision to take Ezekiel in to the hospital anyway, quickly. The closest one was a 30 minute drive away, in Cardston. Shortly after they left their house, Ezekiel again stopped breathing. Again, David called 911 while Collet administered CPR. After David explained their rural location, an ambulance was dispatched from the Cardston hospital to intercept them on their way.
Health System Bypasses Nearby Ambulance for One Further Away
Months later the Stephans learned that, while they were on the phone with 911, they passed “within a few hundred yards of a fully equipped ambulance with 2 local paramedics that were available for dispatch.” That team never got a call. Instead, it was about 15 minutes later when they met up with the Cardston ambulance, who took Ezekiel to the hospital with his parents following. During that 15 minutes, Ezekiel was still not breathing on his own.
Ambulance Lacked Necessary Equipment
He was somewhat stabilized when they all reached the hospital in Cardston. The Stephans later learned that the Alberta Health Services (AHS) had not fully equipped the ambulance that Ezekiel rode in. They were missing the intubation tube that he needed. Their son was without oxygen for 8 1/2 minutes during the ambulance ride, but no one told this to the Stephans until much later.
It was decided that Ezekiel would be airlifted to Calgary Children’s Hospital. Due to a snowstorm, his parents arrived at Calgary before their son. When they were finally able to meet with doctors, they were not given much hope for their son’s survival, because Ezekiel’s heart had stopped during transport for 45 minutes. Incredibly, he pulled through the night.
While his exhausted parents tried to hold onto hope, they were not prepared for the parade of people that came in to question them – Child Protective Service agents, a neurologist, pediatrician, followed by the Calgary police, then the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (federal agents), all interrogating them. By the time all of the questioning was done, they were able to see their baby. Doctors told them that there was no brain activity. CPS returned to try to interview 4 year old Ezra, but mercifully, the hospital social worker decided to escort the CPS agents out of the hospital, after seeing what all the parents had been through.
The Stephans have many friends in the natural health industry, and with their support, the Stephans were given permission to try to help their son. They began utilizing natural alternatives both orally and intravenously. They prayed and hoped and even began seeing improvement, but doctors made the decision after 3 days to take him off of life support.
After weeks of his condition going back and forth, their beloved Ezekiel was gone. David writes:
Our home became quiet. Absent of the laughter and sounds of playing children that it was once filled with. We were devastated. Life was not the same and we realized that it would never be the same. We had all lost a part of our lives that no matter how hard we tried, it could not be replaced. We would never be complete as a family again.
Autopsy Report – More Questions than Answers
As they tried to put the pieces of their lives back together again, they received a copy of their son’s autopsy report 8 months after his death. Instead of a definitive answer to the cause of death, the report listed an “opinion,” with a heavy emphasis on the fact that Ezekiel was not immunized. The opinion was that he died from bacterial meningitis and an infection in his right lung. According to “a non-clinical research methodology,” haemophilus influenzae bacteria was identified in his body, but the particular strain was not cultured or identified. There are 6 strains; b is the most common, and b is the only strain for which there is a vaccine. Even so, haemophilus influenzae bacteria can be found in people who never have any illness from it.
Though the autopsy report contained some uncertainty about the cause of death, there was information in the report that seemed to indicate that Ezekiel’s death could have been prevented by a vaccine.
This raised a red flag in David Stephan’s mind that the issue of vaccines may come up later if anything ever went to court. His instincts were correct.
The Alberta Health System failed the Stephan family when they needed it most. The Stephans considered taking legal action against the AHS for the failures in the system that contributed to their son’s death, but they realized that there was no outcome that could bring their son back or make up for his loss. Rather than put themselves through the pain of reliving their son’s death, they decided to let the matter rest and not pursue charges.
Parents Charged in Their Son’s Death
The Canadian government did not afford them the same.
Almost a year after Ezekiel died, the Stephans found a business card from the police tucked into their front door, asking for them to call. The Sergeant told them that “the Crown has made some recommendations.” When they met with the police the next day, on February 12, 2013, they were charged with “Failing to Provide the Necessities of Life.”
The family says that they are being portrayed as parents who just left their son to die. The picture that is being painted is that Ezekiel got sick in February and continually deteriorated until he died weeks later, without his parents seeking any help for him. This portrayal ignores the fact that Ezekiel’s health went up and down all through that time period. He would improve, then get worse, then improve again. His parents treated him with natural remedies, and were prepared at any time to seek medical intervention if it appeared warranted. They asked a friend who is a nurse to check him out. Never did his symptoms seem to merit alarm until the very end, at which point the Stephans promptly called for help. Yet, they are being accused of failing to “activate the medical system soon enough.”
It has become increasingly apparent to the Stephans that they are being blamed for not vaccinating Ezekiel. However, David maintains that there is no evidence that a vaccine would have prevented his death. The autopsy is not conclusive. Never did their son show any of the classic symptoms of bacterial meningitis.
There are serious risks associated with the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines. According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), there have been more than 15,000 serious adverse events following the Hib vaccine that have been reported to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including more than 2,250 deaths.
In 2011, Japan ordered doctors to stop giving Hib and pneumococcal vaccines after 4 babies died. At the same time, over 2,000 babies died in the U.S.
Could Retaliation Be a Factor?
This is not the first time that members of the Stephan family have come under attack by Health Canada. They have been known as freedom fighters in the natural health industry. Close to a decade ago, Health Canada tried to shut down the family business Truehope, and force them to stop selling and distributing their nutritional products, because they were used to treat bi-polar illness and depression instead of pharmaceutical products. Truehope won their case, and some believe that the Crown could be retaliating against the family over their defeat. (See link.)
Court Battle Begins, and Much Is at Stake
It has now been more than 3 years since charges were filed. Their case will be heard in court beginning February 29, 2016, and is expected to last up to 4 weeks. The family, which has grown by 2 more sons since Ezekiel’s death, has had to travel more than 6 hours away for the court proceedings, and will be living out of suitcases for the next few weeks.
Much is at stake in this unusual case. A family is suffering and being forced to relive one of the most difficult chapters of their lives, because of a system that seems bent on sacrificing a family in order to further an agenda that cannot be accomplished legislatively.
If the Stephan’s are found guilty, they face the prospect of up to 5 years jail time, as well as the possible loss of their children to the Child Protective Services system.
A precedent will be set whereby Canadian families who choose to exercise their right not to vaccinate their children, whether for health, religious, or philosophical reasons, will have that right essentially ended, in what is known as a “chilling effect.” The precedent will chill vaccine choice to the point of being non-existent, because parents who do not vaccinate will be held responsible to seek out traditional medical treatment sooner than parents who vaccinate. Any parent whose unvaccinated child gets sick or dies could be held criminally liable.
On the family’s Facebook page, Prayers for Ezekiel, David Stephan wrote:
[T]he thought is quite alarming that if this case somehow goes sour, not only will it tear our family apart as Collet and I would most likely end up in jail, but it will put a lot of Canadians who either choose not to vaccinate, or selectively vaccinate, at risk of criminal prosecution.
For those who are reading this and see this agenda as a good thing, at what cost are you willing to support your ideologies? At the end of the day this is not about upholding your ideologies, but rather about people. About people’s right to educate and choose what is best for their families. About people’s right to make choices without fear of having their families torn apart by an industry that stands to profit tremendously off of them.
And the situation that Collet and I find ourselves in, is that there is an organization that is attempting to offer our family up on the sacrificial altar of the vaccine industry.
I ask for your support in preventing this from taking place. I ask that you join with us in taking a stand to preserve the liberties and inalienable rights that are naturally endowed upon us as children of the Divine Creator. I earnestly pray to God above that we may be empowered to defend and preserve our rights that are necessary to having life, liberty and being able to pursue happiness.
What You Can Do
The Stephan family asks for prayer “for our freedoms to be upheld and that right prevails.”
Share their story so that people are aware of what is at stake.
Show your support for the family by visiting their Facebook page, Prayers for Ezekiel, and encouraging David and Collet as they face this battle not only for their own family, but for families across Canada and beyond.
Originally reported on HealthImpactNews