Chiropractor Forced To Pay $100,000 Fine & Lose License Over Anti-Vax Posts

Dena Churchill discusses mandatory vaccines
Dena Churchill/YouTube

If you thought the anti-vax movement was only getting heated here in the US, this story out of Nova Scotia is about to prove that theory wrong. Halifax-based chiropractor Dena Churchill was slapped with a $100,000 fine after she was found guilty of professional misconduct -- and lost her license to practice, according to CBC. The crime? Sharing her anti-vaccine views online as medical advice, and refusing to take them down.

  • The decision came after a long investigation first launched by the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors back in 2018.

    The college zeroed in on Churchill after reports surfaced of her "prolific" posting social media, which expressed disproved and unfounded views about vaccination. 

    The posts were originally published under her blog, the curiously titled Dr. Sexy Mom -- where Churchill describes herself as an "International Speaker, Author and Innovator of Women’s Empowerment in Health and Wellness."

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  • A quick visit shows that Churchill is indeed still blogging, and she writes about everything from children's back pain to sex slavery to beauty tips.

    In other words: It's safe to say she doesn't exactly stay in the lane of chiropractic work. In fact, her latest post, titled, "Healthy Sex and Your Magic Dragon," even mentions vaginal and rectal steaming. (If you're into that sorta thing.)

    But the blog posts in question were the ones that spouted medically debunked information about vaccines. And because Churchill is promoting herself as a doctor spouting medical knowledge ... well, you can see where things start to get problematic.

    Additionally, the national chiropractic association guideline states that chiropractors are "not to discuss vaccines in any capacity," according to CBC. Yet, this hasn't stopped Churchill from publicly promoting her views.

  • Churchill had been asked several times to remove the blog posts, but she refused. So in January, she was forced to surrender her license.

    At that point, she admitted she'd been "professionally incompetent as a result of incompetence arising out of mental incapacity." But when it came to Churchill showing remorse? Let's just say there wasn't any.

    "This is an egregious matter," read a statement from the college, obtained by CBC. "Dr. Churchill admitted she is guilty of professional misconduct. Dr. Churchill was responsible for social media posts outside her scope of practice which were harmful to the public."

  • In fact, you can still go to Churchill's website and read plenty of vaccine-related content, if you want to. (Or make that, vaccine misinformation.)

    A quick search turns up posts such as "Vaccines, Heavy Metals, and Cancer," which begins by saying: "Writing about vaccines, heavy metals and cancer is not too sexy but as a doctor and a mother, I believe this is information you need in order to make informed health decisions for you and your family."

    What follows is a 13-point diatribe questioning everything from the safety of current vaccine schedules to the validity of their benefits. A YouTube video from May also openly questions why mandatory vaccines even exist.

  • Much of this same misinformation is what fuels the anti-vax movement in America, too -- something that's recently come to a head.

    In fact, health officials believe the groundswell of vaccine hesitancy -- which is defined by the World Health Organization as a "delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccination services” -- is behind the recent rash of measles outbreaks affecting areas of the US, including New York, California, and Washington.

    The American Medical Association is so concerned, the board sent letters earlier this year to major tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, and YouTube, urging their CEOs to aid in the association's mission of stopping the spread of vaccine misinformation.

  • To those who might think the ruling was too harsh, the committee did note the outcome could have been very different, if Churchill had complied.

    "This entire matter could have been avoided if Dr. Churchill deleted offending posts from her social media account," the decision noted. "She refused."

    That said, the committee did go somewhat light on Churchill when it came to the total bill and repayment schedule. Although an initial hearing determined Churchill would need to pay fine of more than $178K, that was later reduced to $100K. And it won't need to be paid in full but in increments -- with the first amount ($30,000) due in 2022. The committee also has no ability to block Churchill from practicing outside the province or from using the title of doctor. 

    Still, the ruling does speak volumes for how seriously the medical community is starting to take the spread of vaccine misinformation. Whereas the anti-vax community once seemed to occupy a small, almost silent pocket of the internet, its voices are getting louder -- and health officials aren't about to let that turn back the clock on decades of science.