A common trope being pushed by COVID-19 vaccine deniers is “my body, my choice.” What they are saying is that they have a fundamental right to decide whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine (or any vaccine, for that matter).
Ironically, “my body, my choice” is a feminine slogan that was used in the abortion argument – it meant that it’s the woman’s body and it was her choice about abortion. Since much of the anti-vaccine movement, at least in the USA, is on the far right, I can bet most of these people would decry the pro-abortion meaning of “my body, my choice” – they don’t think women have a right to choose anything about their body. Except for vaccines, of course.
Despite their attempt to co-opt the actual meaning of “my body, my choice,” these anti-vaxxers are trying to push the narrative that there should be freedom of choice for vaccines.
But like most tropes in the anti-vax world, this one is a solid no – it does not make sense.
Co-opting my body, my choice.
Freedom of choice is acceptable only when those choices do not harm others, because freedom from harm is also a fundamental right. It is your body when you choose to consume a large amount of alcohol – but your body cannot drive a car in that condition, because driving drunk can lead to harm to others. Go ahead and tell a cop that it is your choice to drink and refuse a breathalyzer test when caught.
In essence, my freedom from harm trumps your freedom of choice in almost every case.
Choosing to be unvaccinated can lead to a lot of consequences, similar to the person who chooses to drink alcohol and then chooses to drive home.
- You might never catch COVID-19. In this one case, you don’t cause harm to others, but it is rare.
- You might end up in the ICU which causes harm by taking precious healthcare resources that may be needed for the victims of an automobile accident caused by someone choosing to drink.
- You might cause someone to be grievously harmed by giving them COVID-19.
Just as we have laws that keep people from driving vehicles while drunk, we need laws to protect innocent people from spreading COVID-19.
When a person chooses not to get vaccinated, they now have the potential to harm others. It’s not just about them, it is about the harm they do to others.
- Because not everyone has access to or can get vaccinated.
- Because some people who get vaccinated may still be be susceptible to the disease.
- Because unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19 will disproportionately use limited medical resources.
As I said above, a vaccinated person who has an unexpected and serious medical emergency may not be able to get treated in a timely manner because the hospital is filled with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. That violates my, and everyone’s, fundamental freedom from harm.
Like the misappropriation of Holocaust and rape imagery by anti-vaxxers, the co-opting of “my body, my choice” from the pro-abortion activists, who probably have nothing in common with the anti-vaxxers, is a method to rally their hive minds around simple-to-see tropes that grab people at their core level.
Of course, their actions are more like “my body, my choice to harm you” – they are violating people’s freedom from harm by their misguided nonsense.
Vaccine mandates are legal – just read these articles from Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – here, here, here, here, and here. They are constitutional according to the Supreme Court decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which clearly stated that the state could protect citizens from harm caused by the unvaccinated.
My body, my choice makes perfect sense for a woman who demands the right to have an abortion, because it is her body – her choice is hers alone, as it has no impact on any other living human being.
It makes no sense for the anti-vaxxers (and by extension, the anti-maskers) because their choice causes harm to others. And the community’s right to freedom of harm is more important than freedom to choose to not get the COVID-19 vaccine.
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