Redefining Mandatory Vaccination as Necessary to Life and the Refusal of Vaccination as Criminal Negligence Causing Death

Main Article Content

SUSA Submissions
Cody Bondarchuk


This paper argues that childhood vaccination should be considered a necessary of life as defined in Section 215 (1) of the Canadian Criminal Code, and parents who do not vaccinate their children should be considered responsible for death by criminal negligence if their child dies from a preventable disease. It timelines the long history of the vaccine debate from the perspective of both science of skeptics and points to the since-retracted Wakefield paper as the catalyst for the re-emergence of this debate, detailing the science behind why vaccination is safe, effective, and necessary. It then outlines the theory of medical neglect as a form of indirect killing in the same way starvation or lack of shelter is currently considered neglect under the Code, to prove that vaccination is required for all children who can be vaccinated and the dangers of not doing so. It concludes with notes on disease prevention and education to increase the number of vaccinated children, as the goal of defining vaccination as a necessary of life is not meant to punish parents but to encourage higher rates of vaccination and a greater communal knowledge of medical procedures.

Article Details



Associated Foreign Press (2016). Mandatory vaccination in France. Vaccine Information Network. Retrieved from

Associated Press (2016). Mom charged after making kids walk more than 3 miles to school in the cold. Fox News. Retrieved from

Aylward, B. (2001). The zero-sum goal: The challenge of disease eradication. Harvard International Review, 23(3), 71-75. Retrieved from

Bearman, P. S. (2010). Just-so stories: Vaccines, autism, and the single-bullet disorder. Social Psychology Quarterly, 73(2), 112-115. Retrieved from

Belisle, A. (2015). Children continue to die from vaccine-preventable diseases. We can stop that. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Born, K., Yiu, V., & Sullivan, T. (2014). Provinces divided over mandatory vaccination for school children. Healthy Debate. Retrieved from

Bumiller K. (2009). The geneticization of autism: From new reproductive technologies to the conception of genetic normalcy. Signs, 34(4), 875-899. Retrieved from

Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (2011). Annual Monitoring Report 2010. Retrieved from

Canadian Press (2016). Ezekiel Stephan trial: Parents found guilty in toddler’s meningitis death. Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved from

CBC News (2016). Alberta parents convicted in toddler’s meningitis death. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved from
Coates Danson, C. (2015, August 29). Vaccines: Who is right and whose right is it? Global Possibilities. Retrieved from

Danzinger, P. D. & Diamond, R. (2016). The vaccination double standard. Slate. Retrieved from
Dial-a-Law series (n.d.). Parents obligations to their children. Calgary Legal Guidance. Retrieved from

EKOS Research Associates Inc. (2011). Survey of Parents on Key Issues Related to Immunization. Retrieved from

Floyd, J. (2015). Withholding vaccinations is a form of child abuse. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from

Fu, F., Rosenbloom, D. I., Wang, L., & Nowak, M. A. (2011). Imitation dynamics of vaccination behaviour on social networks. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 278(1702), 42-49. Retrieved from

Haelle, T. (2015). 8 reasons parents don’t vaccinate (and why they should). Retrieved from

Harmsen, I. A., Mollema, L., Ruiter, R. A. C., Paulussen, T. G. W., de Melker, H. E., & Kok, G. (2013). Why parents refuse childhood vaccination: A qualitative study using online focus groups. BioMed Central Public Health, 13, 1183. Retrieved from

Kodish, E. (2014). The ethical negligence of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Lillvis, D. F., Kirkland, A., & Frick, A. (2014). Power and persuasion in the vaccine debates: An analysis of political efforts and outcomes in the United States, 1998-2012. The Milbank Quarterly, 92(3), 475-508. Retrieved from

Lipinski, J. (2013). Endangering the herd. Slate. Retrieved from

Maron, D. F. (2015, March 6). Fact or fiction?: Vaccines are dangerous. Scientific American. Retrieved from

Marturana, A. (2016). This anti-vaxx mom is now pro-vaccine after all 3 of her kids got sick. Self. Retrieved from

Meyers, P. H. (2011). Fixing the flaws in the federal vaccine injury compensation program. Administrative Law Review, 63(4), 785-851. Retrieved from

Mohdin, A. (2016). Ontario parents who refuse to vaccinate their children could be forced to take a science class. Quartz. Retrieve from

Revised Statutes of Canada (1985). Criminal Code, R.S.C. c.46, s.215, 219, 220. Retrieved from

Rothstein. A. (2015). Vaccines and their critics, then and now. The New Atlantis, 44, 3-27. Retrieved from

Rouillon, E. (2014). Charges against French parents stir mandatory vaccination debate. Vice News. Retrieved from

Scheper-Hughes, N. (1985). Culture, scarcity, and maternal thinking: Maternal detachment and infant survival in a Brazilian shantytown. Ethos, 13(4), 291-317). Print.

Skinner, D. A. & Kohler, J. K. (2002). Parental rights in diverse family contexts: Current legal developments. Family Relations, 51(4), 293-300. Retrieved from

Vara, C. (2014). Rights of the unvaccinated child: Criminal law. Shot of Prevention. Retrieved from

United Nations Treaty Series (1989, November 20). Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved from

Wakefield, A. J., Murch, S. H., Anthony, A., Linnell, J., Casson, D. M., Malik, M., Berelowitz, M., Dhillon, A. P., Thomson, M. A., Harvey, P., Valentine, A., Davies, S. E., & Walker-Smith, J. A. (1998). RETRACTED: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet, 351(9103), 637-641. Retrieved from

Willingham, E. (2013). Court rulings don’t confirm autism-vaccine link. Forbes Retrieved from