Diana H. v. Rubin

171 P.3d 200 (2007)

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Diana H. v. Rubin

Arizona Court of Appeals
171 P.3d 200 (2007)

Facts

Diana H. (plaintiff) was a mother whose nine-month-old daughter, Cheyenne, was adjudicated dependent and placed in foster care because Cheyenne was developmentally delayed due to a lack of adequate nutrition. Diana did not challenge the adjudication of dependency, but she did provide the Arizona Department of Economic Security (the department) with a request in writing that Cheyenne be exempted from immunizations based on Diana’s religious beliefs. Despite this, the department moved for court authorization to immunize Cheyenne over Diana’s objections, regarding the immunizations as being medically necessary and in Cheyenne’s best interests. After a hearing, a judge ordered Cheyenne to be adjudicated dependent and scheduled another hearing to consider immunization. At the hearing, a case manager from Child Protective Services testified that the childcare facility that Cheyenne attended, which was also where her foster mother worked, insisted that Cheyenne be immunized in order to maintain attendance. However, a witness for Diana was prepared to testify, if called, that 31 of 34 local childcare facilities would accept Cheyenne without immunizations. Nevertheless, a judge granted the department’s motion partly because the judge considered Diana’s request for an exemption to be invalid, having been provided after the department had been granted legal and physical custody of Cheyenne on a temporary basis. Diana sought review. On review, Diana argued that the adjudication of dependency granting temporary custody of Cheyenne to the state did not destroy all her parental rights and that by state law, she still had residual parental rights that included her right to decline immunizations for her daughter consistent with her religious beliefs. Under Arizona law, parents were permitted to decline immunizations for a child’s attendance at childcare centers based on religion or at public schools based on personal beliefs. The statute that addressed the rights of both the state and parents in the dependency context indicated that the state had the responsibility to provide food, shelter, medical care, and so forth, subject to a parent’s residual rights. Parents retained rights that were not passed to the state through adjudication of dependency, which included the right to select a child’s religion because, indeed, a state was not permitted to establish a religion. Yet state law clearly required the state to provide dependent children with medical care, which could include immunizations. The appellate court considered the conflict between the state’s obligation to provide medical care and a parent’s fundamental right to control a child and to dictate the child’s religious upbringing.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eckerstrom, J.)

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