by Meghan Murphy
Friday, 8
October 2021
Debate
07:30

The feminist case against vaccine mandates

Women should have a right to choose
by Meghan Murphy
A demonstrator holds a placard saying “My Body My Choice” in Indiana. Credit: Getty

Last week, Gloria Steinem testified at a House Oversight hearing in response to a Texas bill allowing people to sue anyone that helps a woman get an abortion. “What’s happening in Texas is not only a women’s issue, but a step against democracy, which allows us to control our own bodies and our own voices,” she said.

Steinem is right: in a democracy, all people should have autonomy over their bodies and the choices they make about their bodies. Across America, women came out to protest the Texas bill, holding signs reading: “My body, my choice,” the classic second wave feminist slogan advocating bodily autonomy for women.

But a glaring hypocrisy has arisen this year, undermining feminists’ demands for bodily autonomy in the form of vaccine mandates being imposed across North America. When feminists say: “My body, my choice” do they really mean it?

In Canada, “feminist” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was re-elected for a third term last month, recently announced that all employees in federally regulated workplaces would be required to show proof of vaccine, as well as anyone travelling within Canada; in California, Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced all students and teachers would be required to get the Covid vaccine in order to attend school; and in New York, Northwell Health, the largest health care provider fired 1,400 of its employees for refusing to comply with the state’s Covid vaccine mandate. Across the country, healthcare workers across America are walking out in protest of mandatory vaccination.

While there is a history of schools in the US and in Canada requiring immunisation against diseases like the measles and mumps, the Covid vaccines function differently, in that they don’t prevent vaccinated individuals from catching or spreading the virus, but mainly prevent people from developing more serious symptoms. In other words, declining to get the Covid vaccine isn’t really about other people’s health outcomes, but your own.

Vaccination should therefore be an individual choice. In a democracy, as Steinem points out, people should have the right to make informed choices about their own bodies and health. But far too many feminists and progressives who loudly pronounce their pro-choice politics, vilifying anyone opposed as repressive, misogynist, and authoritarian, blindly support vaccine mandates and the censorship and punishment of anyone critical.

Famed feminist lawyer Gloria Allred recently debated Dave Rubin on the issue of vaccine mandates, arguing on one hand that it is one’s “right to choose” what one does with their body, but that in the case of the Covid vaccine, this doesn’t apply because choosing not to get vaccinated endangers others. Putting aside the fact Allred lacks a basic understanding of how this vaccine works, it is appalling to suggest, as she did, that individuals should lose rights, freedoms, and their employment should they decline the vaccine.

For the record, the argument goes both ways: Right-wingers who support bans on abortion but argue against vaccine mandates on account of an individual’s “right to choose” should rethink their belief that the government should be allowed to dictate what choices women make about their own bodies.

This kind of hypocrisy undermines our arguments for freedom, rights, and autonomy — something we should all be able to agree on.

Either we live in a free and humane society wherein people get to make choices about their own lives and health or we live in an authoritarian society where the government dictates what individuals do with their bodies.

Meghan Murphy is a Canadian writer, exiled in Mexico. She hosts The Same Drugs on YouTube.

Join the discussion


  • Classical dilemma. In both cases the counterargument is that you are not completely free to do what you want with your own body if your actions also have consequences for others, be it for unborn chldren you are carrying, or people around you whom you might infect. And the answer given to that is to deny that such consequences exist, either by defining unborn children as not existing (yet), or to claim that vaccination has absolutely no effect on infection rates. The latter argument would carry some weight if we were sure it was true, but are we? This would not be the first time that debaters on either side of the COVID argument chose to believe a set of facts that suited their agenda.

  • No one knows how safe any of the Covid vaccines are, simply because we have not had them for long enough to know. It is an insult to people’s intelligence to claim that Covid vaccines are 100% safe for children for example. How would anyone know? What does “safe” mean in this context?
    In Melbourne, Australia we have had the longest lockdown in the world apparently, and the most draconian restrictions devastating the whole state and possibly crippling us for decades to come financially. Yet the number of infections are steadily rising.
    The numbers gravely delivered daily via all mainstream media channels show a 1% death-rate or even lower – amongst people who get tested because they have symptoms. Given the frequency of no-symptom infections, the actual death-rate may be 0.5% or less. Hardly a cause for mass hysteria.
    People are not permitted to talk about vaccine side effects that present in this very short time period – we have had vaccines for less than a year.
    Comorbidities of young Covid patients in ICU are not mentioned, but the photo accompanying a dramatic newspaper article couldn’t hide the morbidly obese shape of a 17-year-old on the ICU bed.
    Censorship blocks posts of treatment or prevention options on either social media or traditional media beyond vaccination and solitary confinement in one’s own home for the unvaccinated, as if Covid was a completely new, completely fatal calamity unlike anything humankind has ever encountered, pushing civilisation to the brink of extinction.
    In recent days mainstream media started a new fear campaign accusing people who question the removal of choice to accept or not accept Covid vaccination of bringing back smallpox(!) and polio.
    In a country like Australia this is completely at odds, with how we have been viewing viral illnesses. This is contrary to all common sense.
    It is very hard not to be suspicious of the motives behind all this, and it is easy to be alarmed about the long-term health hazards short-sighted politicians and greedy business people subject our children and teenagers to, who are highly unlikely to become serious ill, should they catch Covid unvaccinated.

  • One issue to be aware of is that people ill with covid at home receive no treatment, nothing zero zilch, until they get so bad they end up in hospital (several cases amongst my clients). This even so when there is evidence of helpful treatments such as https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32387409/
    (Interesting that this research is criticised because it does not have a placebo arm…. that is just amazing criticism: let’s just see who dies if I don’t treat them…. more so, especially when the other studies that used the same medication at the wrong time during the illness and at the wrong dose are valued as a counter argument. The world of medical science is dead , there are only interests left..)
    The reason such research is best ignored is that if there is a treatment available for covid, the vaccines would not be granted a licence: hence bury any possible effective treatment. Naive…??? ….we just love vaccines who will save us from all ills….

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