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In re Z.S.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

August 11, 2015

IN RE Z.S

Argued May 14, 2015.

On the briefs: Erika Bristol, Esq., Auburn, for appellant mother.

Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services.

At oral argument: Erika Bristol, Esq., for appellant mother.

Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee Department of Health and Human Services.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ. Majority: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, and GORMAN, JJ. Concurrence/Dissent: JABAR, J.

OPINION

GORMAN, J.

[¶1] The mother of Z.S. appeals from an order entered in the District Court (Portland, Goranites, J. ) finding that the child is in circumstances of jeopardy. The mother contends that there was insufficient evidence to support the court's finding of jeopardy, and that the court erred by ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to approve vaccinations for the child against the mother's wishes. We disagree and affirm.

Page 1287

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] In an order dated October 1, 2014, the court found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the mother placed the child in circumstances of jeopardy. See 22 M.R.S. § 4035(2) (2014). Specifically, the court found that the mother " often conceals or withholds information" and " left two other jurisdictions to avoid further child protective service involvement and reunite with [the] father." The court found that the mother's inability to see the father as a potential threat to the child and her decision to remain in the relationship despite " first hand accounts" of domestic violence create jeopardy. See 22 M.R.S § 4002(6)(A) (2014).

[¶3] In addition to its conclusion that the mother's actions caused at least a threat of serious harm to the child, the court found that the mother refused all efforts to vaccinate the child based on her refusal to accept scientific facts, referencing her statement, " I do not believe in viruses." The court also found that the mother denied the child antibiotics because she believes that " the mind can cure all." Finally, the court found that the mother failed to obtain medical treatment for her child's hernia, noting her report that, when it bulges, she simply pushes it back. As a result of these findings, the court concluded that the child had been deprived of necessary health care. See 22 M.R.S. § 4002(6)(B-1).

[¶4] As part of the child protection order it issued granting custody to the Department, the court also ordered the Department, inter alia, to arrange for the child to have a full medical evaluation and to " approve such vaccinations as ...


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