Abortion and vaccines are about the same thing: individual sovereignty
The classic struggle of dogma vs personal freedom
Two hotly contentious issues have been raging lately which, despite being advocated for and opposed by completely different political encampments, are — in my politically and religiously agnostic estimation — ideologically nearly identical in nature.
Let me explain.
Alabama’s recent strides towards aggressive anti-abortion legislature (which follows several other red states’ similar recent measures) has been driven by what looks to this child of the 80s like a good old fashioned wave of Clinton era neoconservative Evangelical pro-life hytsteria. Bizarrely — and most unsettling to the large portion of the US population which doesn’t hold fundamentalist religious beliefs — this hysteria seems to have not only lingered over the last two decades, but to have grown enough in power and intensity to threaten to overturn what women in the US have regarded as a basic right for decades.
How could this happen?
people ask. Having grown up in the Evangelical community, I have to say I’m as shocked as everyone else. Why this breed of idiocy hasn’t died out, IMO, can only be blamed on the combination of a consistently effective and misogynist propaganda machine (i.e. mega churches, Focus on the Family, and the 700 Club) and a boomer generation that’s not equipped with the new media literacy necessary to understand when their screen is selling them a crummy used car. Sorry boomers. We love you. But Fox News is not Walter Cronkite. It’s not. It’s so very, very not. And James Dobson’s actually not a nice dude. I know he sounds so nice on the radio. That’s his radio voice, mom. It’s theater. That’s what radio is. That’s what all media is. Don’t act so guillible; you’re embarassing me.
Meanwhile, across the imaginary political battle lines, most of these same left-leaning democrats, liberals, neoliberals, and self-identifying progressives who are horror stricken at the political religious right’s attack on abortion rights are aggressively attacking, censoring, and outright bullying parents and advocates who insist that a child’s healthcare plan should be decided between parents and their doctors, not by federal policy and private pharmaceutical companies.
Yes: I’m talking about “anti-vaxxers”. Did you notice my use of the “pro-life” label above? That’s because this is this community’s self-identifying label of choice. “Anti-vaxxers” have been labeled such by mass media and TV personalities not by consent, whereas the label of choice for this group of individuals tends to be more broadly centered along the lines of “concerned parent” or “medical professional and advocate”. Therefore, I’ll call these individuals what they are: parents and medical professionals who oppose childhood vaccines mandated by the government and delivered by private companies. I know — it’s a mouthful, and way less sexy than “anti-vaxxers”. But it’s more accurate, and I think that’s more important in this case.
A frenzy has been underway over the last few months to stem the tide of vaccine exemptions for public school entry (controlled at the state level) by mandating vaccinations at the federal level. If successful in Senate, recent vaccine advocates would effectively remove states’ ability to manage their own vaccine requirements, and would require parents to provide medical exemptions from their doctors in order to opt out of the vaccinations required for school enrollment.
What anarcho-individualist libertarian nonsense are you on about now, Marjorie, you ask?
Here’s the rub — here’s the binding thread between these issues.
In case you missed it: I’m posing the issue of both mandatory vaccines and abortion as a matter of individual sovereignty — the idea that we each have an inherent right to maintain agency and control over our own physical bodies.
It’s essentially the same philosophy which makes slavery not okay. Because people shouldn’t be bodies that are owned. People should be able to be in charge of their own bodies. They shouldn’t be experimented on without knowledge or consent. They shouldn’t have their ability to reproduce fucked with (e.g. forced sterilization, which western medicine has done in the name of social progress), or be genitally mutilated, or be abused sexually, physically, or emotionally. Because people should be able to have authority over their own bodies and minds.
Right? I mean — we can all agree on the basic principle of individual sovereignty — the philosophy that keeps us from enslaving one another, right? RIGHT?!?
This is the philosophy that’s at the heart of the parents and medical advocates opposing mandatory vaccination. That the CDC has no right to seize control of childrens’ health from their parents and doctors. The US government has no right to mandate the injection of drugs into children. That’s not the government’s job. In light of the child’s minority status, it’s the parent’s job, and their doctors’.
It’s the same as the philosophy that’s at the heart of pro-choice individuals advocate: women have a right to individual sovereignty over their bodies, which includes their choice to keep or terminate a pregnancy. Legislators — especially male legislators — have no right to dictate what a woman can do with her body, specifically how she manages her reproduction.
I know, I know — I can hear the protest being screamed at your phone screen.
But they’re NOT the same, because one is about rights, and the other is about protecting people…
See what I did there? Do you see the problem here? If it’s that easy for me to write the counterargument as interchangeable, we’re likely dealing with pretty similar issues here. So just to annoy my progressive/left-leaning audiences, I’m going to bury the lede on vaccinations and address how pro-life advocates justify violating individual sovereignty first.
You can find the full article and more of my full works at the @creativeonion network.