JUDGE DENIES MOTIONS IN ANTHRAX CASE



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Last Updated

28 May 2003

Source: New York Times, May 28, 2003

Judge Denies Motions in Anthrax Case

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) -- A military judge upheld the legality of the military's anthrax vaccination program Tuesday and refused to dismiss the charge against an Army reservist facing a court martial for refusing the vaccine.

Defense attorneys for Pvt. Kamila Iwanowska, 26, argued that the anthrax vaccine was never properly licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and was being used by the military even though it is not intended for treatment of inhalation infections.

They also contended that Iwanowska had already been punished by her company commander for her refusal to take the vaccine and she was being prosecuted again for the same act.

Judge Lt. Col. Michael Hargis rejected both arguments, clearing the way for Iwanowska's court martial to proceed with testimony before a panel of officers and enlisted personnel.

"Unfortunately, it was a day of losses. We think the judge's decision is a misapplication of the law but we're ready to go ahead,'' said Kenneth Levine, one of Iwanowska's attorneys.

Iwanowska told her superiors that she considered the anthrax shot medically dangerous to children she might have in the future, saying the long-term effects of the anthrax vaccine are unknown. As a Roman Catholic, she also cited religious reasons for refusing it.

"She felt it was a sin for her to take the vaccine with so many unknowns. She had, and still has, legitimate safety concerns,'' Levine said.

The Pentagon insists the vaccination is safe, with severe adverse reactions developing in about one in 100,000 vaccinations.

If found guilty of disobeying an order, Iwanowska could face a maximum of 12 months in jail, a bad conduct discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of some of her pay, said Capt. Leslie Rowley, one of the prosecutors.