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.

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Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
10 months ago

Logic is required, nothing more.

  • The vaccine doesn’t stop you getting Covid.
  • The vaccine doesn’t stop you spreading Covid if you get it.
  • It does greatly reduce the risk of Covid symptoms becoming dangerous.
  • Therefore, whether someone gets the vaccine, or not, has no effect on anyone else. It’s a matter of personal risk-management only.

It is probably a good idea for the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and the obese to be vaccinated to reduce the likelihood of it turning nasty, but for everyone else, it’s optional.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Ah, but does it reduce significantly the chance of either getting or passing on COVID (even if does not prevent it completely)? I do not know for sure. Do you? If so, do you have a reference?

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The CDC’s assessment.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

From the CDC web site:

data show fully vaccinated persons are less likely than unvaccinated persons to acquire SARS-CoV-2, and infections with the Delta variant in fully vaccinated persons are associated with less severe clinical outcomes. Infections with the Delta variant in vaccinated persons potentially have reduced transmissibility than infections in unvaccinated persons, although additional studies are needed.

So, vaccination definitely makes you less likely to get COVID, and potentially reduces transmission.
Which part of their assessment were you looking at?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

‘The vaccine’ doesn’t stop 100% of us getting COVID, but it stops some of us getting it; it doesn’t prevent transmission, but it does reduce it; therefore it it is not the case that ‘… whether someone gets the vaccine, or not, has no effect on anyone else.’ That seems more logical to me. If either of the first two statements above are provably false, different (but unlikely) story, of course.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
10 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

The correct statement of the third bullet demonstrates the naivete of the overall reasoning, which, at the time of writing this reply, is subscribed to by the “likes” of 10 others. My independent comment (above or below) explains why the reasoning is naïve.

Last edited 10 months ago by Patrick Butler
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
10 months ago

I am 100% with the author. I am pro choice on both counts.
For my existence and survival & sanity it is essential for me to able to make that choice. If I cease to exist because that choice has been taken away from me,, or loose my sanity, then it’s been counterproductive.
As a mother – I chose to bear children, also I chose to have an abortion at a time when I was too young and unmarried and social and financial circumstances did not feel right to be a mother. It would have been a different life if I had been forced to bear that child. I am so happy at least I had the choice & I am comfortable with my choice.

Similarly I am glad I have a choice not to have the vaccine. I am a responsible adult who keeps fit and healthy. No one should make that decision for me.

I can honestly say the feminists who are pushing vaccines are refusing to see the science of vaccines, are duplicitous and in reality fail to value choice over ones own body.

Issue is not pro life or pro vaccine. For me it is PRO-CHOICE.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago

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.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That is if the arguments are really black and white but they never are. One could be pro abortion rights because it tends to bring along more support for women (and safety for those who would go for an abortion whatever he legality).
For the covid vaccine, apart from fitting the official narrative and having an excellent placebo effect on the frightened population, there are no other reasons to make them compulsory apart from political ones. It will take years before we have the data whether vaccination is, OK, or good, or bad….

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
10 months ago

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.

Last edited 10 months ago by Katalin Kish
Bella OConnell
Bella OConnell
10 months ago
Reply to  Katalin Kish

Katalin, I am sure I am not alone on this forum in agreeing wholeheartedly with many of your comments. We in the UK have been saying much of this since March 2020 but been highly censored, which is why you have probably not come across them. Helpful forums such as this have kept me sane. Others that may interest you are Planet Normal podcasts, you tube interviews with Dr Zach Bush, podcasts and interviews with a statistician called Ivor Cummins. And of course there is the book by Laura Dodsworth, ‘A state of Fear: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic’. There are many more sources but you need to know where to find them, because, as you probably already know, if the heading includes anything vaccine or covid related it is likely to be removed or censored. It is an appalling state of affairs.
I hope Melbourne’s restrictions are lifted very soon.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
10 months ago

All of this requires serious research. All the indications are that vaccines do help others by making a significant reduction in the rate of transmission but does not eliminate it. This needs solid research based upon data for millions of tests and vaccines. There are also indications that vaccines offer less protection to those whose immune systems fail to protect them. This needs solid research based upon data for millions of tests and vaccines. The research shoud include antibody tests to see if the vulnerable who remain at risk after vaccination can be identified. There needs to be research on whether the genetic material introduced in RNA vaccines really do disintegrate in a matter of days as this is often sited by the vaccine hesitant.
There needs to be research on when the thalamic relay cells in a foetus have developed to the point that they are able to signal sensory inputs to the cortex and TRN as this is likely to identify when a foetus can first have a conscious awareness.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
10 months ago

In the mandatory vaccination scenario, other people might get sick, and almost certainly if they do, it will be mild. In the abortion scenario, other people will definitely die, and die horribly.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago

Depends if you class it as a person. Personally I don’t before it’s able to live outside of the womb, until then I class it as an extension of the mother.
I don’t believe vaccine mandates is morally correct either, what somebody does to their own body is up to them.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Very bad practice to get into. Some so-called “ethicists” have put forward the idea that a child even OUTSIDE the womb should not be legally classed as human until it passes a number of basic tests to confirm that it has been born normal. Until it does, it can be legally killed. It’s the old story – if you don’t call them human, you can do what you like.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago

To me there’s a world of difference between aborting a foetus that’s incapable of survival without being attached to its mother and infanticide.
I understand others may think life begins at conception, though to me that would rule out people using the morning after pill too.
My personal opinion is that abortion should be legal until the potential baby has a chance of survival outside the womb. If you don’t think abortion is morally right then don’t have one, but that doesn’t mean you should be able to force your beliefs into others.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Nor should you have to pay, through taxation, for other people’s choices.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Liz Walsh

We all pay for other people’s choices, be it public transport or roads, education, healthcare, welfare, police, warfare etc. it’s called being part of society. I’m not a religious man yet numerous faith groups enjoy charitable status in regards to taxation, should that stop too? You can’t have a cohesive society with everything being user pays, it’s a recipe for anarchy

Joanne Danford-Cordingley
Joanne Danford-Cordingley
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

I have a very close friend who was aborted. He came out navy blue, struggling to breathe. His mother, overcome with emotion and love, changed her mind and wanted him to live, and so he was sent to the ICU for months, as he was only two pounds when aborted/born. He went from an unwanted fetus to, in his mother’s words, her “miracle baby”. How do you draw the line? Was he aborted or born? Neither category can live/survive outside the womb at 2lbs. without hospital care around the clock. How does one reconcile this? The same person, aborted/born, as you like – his survival was completely dependent on his mother’s choice and the cooperation of the hospital staff. How does one decide? The same person aborted/born could not survive himself without the help of ethical, compassionate adults with the power to enable his survival. How do you decide? Aborted/born – he could not survive himself, how do the adults in the room choose?

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
10 months ago

Now a days you can probably have a baby in a test tube. Is that conception or playing god?

Marvellous medicine has allowed your friends baby to survive . I am glad it was a happy outcome for both. At least she had a choice.

As far as I see it, children are NOT a miracle. It’s just nature . Procreation happens in animals too. It’s not particularly marvellous.

Last edited 10 months ago by Alka Hughes-Hallett
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago

Firstly, where did this story supposedly happen? The UK has some of the more liberal abortion laws of 24 weeks, and at that timeframe a baby is only just over a pound, so for a baby to be double that you’re looking around the 28 week mark and I don’t know many countries that allow a healthy foetus to be aborted at that stage.
Secondly, the fact he survived (if true) means he was passed the point of viability. The current record of a premature baby surviving is 21 weeks, therefore I’d put the cut off at 20 weeks presently. If medical improvements in the future mean babies can survive earlier than that then the limit should be lowered

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Two problems with that: Children are not able to survive on their own before they are a couple of years old. And it is all a gradual change. The only clear cutoffs would be birth – but children are equally able to survive with adult help just before and just after birth – and conception.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But they are able to survive seperate from the biological mother, so it’s a complete different scenario. No baby born before 21 weeks has ever survived, which is what I’m referring to, as I think you were well aware

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Oh, I am aware. I just do not think it is a particularly weighty argument. At 18 weeks a baby requires the mothers’ body. At 24 weeks it requires a well-equipped hospital. For a year or two after birth it requires constant adult supervision and care. And in the future the limit might be reduced, maybe drastically, by medical technology. Hardly the kind of thing you would use for a clean distinction between wart removal and infa nticide.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You’ve simply stated what I’ve already written. At 18 weeks the pregnancy isn’t viable as it can’t survive without being attached to the biological mother, the record for surviving a premature birth is 21, therefore I’d currently set the limit at 20 weeks. If medical advances allow that level to drop then the abortion limit should drop accordingly

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

That a baby should be regarded as an “extension of the mother” (dismissive of paternity much?) sounds suspiciously like describing a tumor, or an extra large nose. OK to cut it off then.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Liz Walsh

Essentially yes. It should be up to the woman to decide what happens to her body, be it a large nose, foetus or tumour

nguyendochuong
nguyendochuong
10 months ago

Second-wave feminists fail, among many things, to contemplate the implications of their beloved slogan “my body, my choice”, as in they only invoke it when it comes to abortion, which I find to be a moral affront (I am pro-choice, for the record). Is it a choice for a pregnant woman to consume alcohol or inject harmful drugs into her body? Is it a choice for a person to sell his organs on the black market? Is it a choice for an HIV-positive individual to copulate with an HIV-negative partner? “To what extent do we own our bodies?” is a question you don’t see many feminists these days asking.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
10 months ago
Reply to  nguyendochuong

At least three of the examples you give are actually illegal, so ‘choice’ is not really involved, unless the choice concerned is not to obey the law.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
10 months ago

Not so easy to compare it with abortion rights, where there is another human involved. Not many, even the most ardent pro-choice advocates, would agree that a 39 week 6 day pregnancy is OK to abort. What about 39 weeks? What about 37? 35?
Most folks are somewhere in the middle. They don’t think “every sperm is sacred”, nor do those on the other end think that “post-birth abortion” is OK.
It’s not an issue we’ll ever “solve” because it’s not black-and-white enough.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Milburn

Quite. The situation in USA is particularly alarming. It seems from the outside anyway that one is either pro abortion at any stage, effectively allowing infanticide, or no abortion after 6 weeks which effectively outlaws abortion altogether. Hopeless.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
10 months ago

Naïve Reasoning, Meghan Murphy et al.
Under your “choice” reasoning, why aren’t you complaining against seatbelt mandates? After all, it’s your body that’s at increased risk isn’t it? Well, just like unbelted motorists, the medical costs of the unvaccinated are also imposed on the rest of us, sometimes directly when those with other medical emergencies are crowded out of hospitals by unvaccinated covid patients.

Last edited 10 months ago by Patrick Butler
Joanne Danford-Cordingley
Joanne Danford-Cordingley
10 months ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

I think when it comes right down to it, most hospitalizations are among the elderly who often die there of their final disease – that is where the hospital budget is mostly spent. Death will come to us all. Before that are the diseases resulting from personal choices like not exercising, over-eating, and addictions, These often result in cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes to name a few. Yes, there are car accidents but most people wear seatbelts. And if you look at the PHE reports on covid surveillance, more partially and fully vaccinated are dying in hospital than unvaccinated. See pages 19 to 20 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1018547/Technical_Briefing_23_21_09_16.pdf
The hospital is for everyone. Even the people who best look after themselves and make mostly healthy decisions are going to use the hospital and probably die there one day. National healthcare is our way of caring for everyone without judgment. It is possibly the greatest evidence of compassion we have in society.
But if you like mandates and judgments, perhaps we should have passports to prevent the obese from using restaurants, or alcoholics from using bars, or people with STIs going to parties or dating?
Or perhaps we should let adults make their own decisions about their own bodies, and care for them regardless of our agreement or disagreement with their choices.

Last edited 10 months ago by Joanne Danford-Cordingley
Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
10 months ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

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….

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
10 months ago

Follow the money….

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

It’s a perfectly reasonable theoretical question, but there is next to no one who is bothered about having to wear seat belts, or, if there are, they simply break the law quietly and don’t wear them anyway.

I am double vaccinated, at the age of 61, but I can see there is a difference between the two cases. A seat belt cannot harm you, a vaccine can, in rare cases. Mandating their use for teenagers is particularly problematic, because the albeit rare risks of a side effect are nonetheless comparable, or could even be greater, than the very rare risk of covid to such groups.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

The seatbelt analogy has been done to death. Doesn’t really hold up (!) if rigorously applied. Being forced to take a potentially noxious, unprovably longterm beneficial, experimental substance into one’s immune system is different from pregnancy-risking behavior, especially when intercourse was voluntary.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  Patrick Butler

If you believe those “statistics”…