A Michigan mother of two was sentenced to seven days in jail on Wednesday for refusing to vaccinate her 9-year-old son.
Rebecca Bredow, 40, was in contempt of court after she ignored an order from a judge who told her she had one week to get her son vaccinated. The court initially ordered the vaccination in November 2016.
“If my child is going to be forced to be vaccinated, I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” Bredow told Judge Karen McDonald in court. “It goes against my beliefs.”
Bredow did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Before Judge McDonald gave her sentence, Bredow told her: “I stand here scared and vulnerable, begging the court to understand that I am not a lazy parent. I am a passionate mother who cares deeply about my children, their health and their well being.”
Bredow’s ex-husband, James Horne, wants their son vaccinated, according to WZYZ-TV Detroit, but Bredow is the primary caregiver of their son. While she’s in jail, Horne will have temporary custody with the opportunity to get their child vaccinated.
“I would rather sit behind bars standing up for what I believe in, than giving in to something I strongly don’t believe in,” she said, according to the news outlet, stressing that she believes parents have the right to make this decision for their child.
Since the court initially ordered the immunization in 2016, Bredow has cited religious objections, reports the Detroit Free Press.
But Horne’s attorney said in court pleadings that the religious objection wasn’t true and that Bredow and her current husband “testified that they do not practice the tenets of any organized religious,” according to the outlet. He also noted that the waiver document that the couple filed with the child’s school was “a convenient lie.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, her response in court pleadings is that her ex-husband has known for a long time about her objection to vaccines and is now making an issue of it because she’s been attempting to collect back child support.
The opportunity for Horne to get their child vaccinated while Bredow is in jail is concerning for Joel Dorfman of Michigan for Vaccine Choice, a group that advocates for parents’ rights to refuse vaccines.
“If this child is injured as a result of being given eight immunizations, who do you think is going to take care of the child?” Dorfman told the Detroit Free Press. “The judge?”
Parents in Michigan are legally allowed to skip or delay their children’s vaccinations due to personal beliefs, according to the BBC. There is no civil or criminal penalty for refusing to vaccinate your child in the U.S., and every state allows parents to opt out for medical reasons, while some states permit parents to decline vaccinations due to philosophical or religious reasons. Bredow’s case is about her refusal to follow court orders she previously agreed to, according to the judge.