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NZ places child in anti-vax blood case in custody

[Press center8] time:2023-06-06 11:07:22 source:ABC News author:Press center7 click:96order

A New Zealand court has ordered a child at the centre of a case over blood transfusions from donors vaccinated against Covid-19 be taken into temporary custody by health officials.

The four-month-old boy is in a hospital in Auckland awaiting urgent treatment to correct a heart disorder.

His parents had blocked the operation and sought a court ruling that he receive blood from unvaccinated donors.

But the High Court ruled the operation was in the child's "best interest".

Justice Ian Gault ordered that the boy - identified as Baby W in court documents - be placed under the guardianship of the court "from the date of the order until completion of his surgery and post-operative recovery".

He dismissed the parents' request for unvaccinated blood and agreed with health authorities that the boy's "survival [was] actually dependent on the application being granted".

But he emphasised that the parents remained the boy's primary guardians and said doctors must keep them informed at all times about his treatment and condition.

Justice Gault also rejected a request from the parents' lawyer, Sue Grey, that a tailored donor service with blood from exclusively unvaccinated donors be established.

Ms Grey said the long-term effects of the vaccine were "untested" and accused doctors of refusing to provide an alternate donor service for ideological reasons.

But lawyers for the state blood service said the establishment of any direct donor service would have been a "slippery slope" and would "damage an excellent blood service".

Citing evidence from New Zealand's chief medical officer, Justice Gault ruled that there was "no scientific evidence there is any Covid-19 vaccine-related risk from blood donated" by vaccinated donors.

The case has become a vector for anti-vaccine activists in New Zealand with demonstrators - many of whom carried placards - gathering outside the court before the ruling was delivered on Wednesday.

It also emerged during the case that during a meeting with doctors at the Starship hospital in Auckland, the parents had been accompanied by a "support person" who hijacked the conference.

They said the person presented a host of unfounded conspiracy theories, and went on to claim that children were dying from transfusions at the hospital.

Addressing the demonstrators outside the court house following the ruling, former TV host and leading anti-vaccine campaigner Liz Gunn said the decision was "wrong on every level".

Te Whatu Ora (Health NZ) acknowledged that the case was a "difficult situation for all involved" but emphasised that its priority was "the health and wellbeing" of all children in its care.

Dr Philip Joseph, a constitutional law lecturer at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, told the BBC that the court's ruling was "inevitable given the circumstances".

"Even parents' rights of freedom of belief must give way to the right to life (a right guaranteed under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990)," Dr Joseph said.

"There are many precedents where Jehovah's Witness parents have been compelled to allow their children to receive blood transfusions in life threatening situations," he added.

"There is no material difference between these precedents and the court's ruling in the present case."

(editor-in-charge:Press center 1)

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