Abortion, Mandatory Vaccination, and Bodily Autonomy

I find no difficulty in this alleged paradox. I’ll be very blunt. On the matter of abortion, it is absolutely a matter of bodily autonomy. The right to an abortion is a vital matter of bodily autonomy to which the woman is completely entitled and which affects no one else. The argument that is raised against this is that “someone else” is in fact involved, namely the fetus. But in the first couple of trimesters of pregnancy, neither a fertilized egg, nor a blastocyte, nor a fetus, is by any rational definition a “person” except in the fevered brains of delusional zealots, usually driven by the same kind of religious fanaticism that causes them to kill abortion doctors, or the fanaticism of a different religion that produced the horrible devastation of 9/11.

On the matter of vaccinations, first of all no one has said that COVID vaccinations must be imposed by force. But refusing to get vaccinated for a pandemic plague should have all the consequences commensurate with it being a major public health hazard. To say that a vaccine refuser “affects others” is an understatement. Such an individual not only affect everyone that s/he comes in contact with, but that person is also a potential incubator of deadly new variants that may not only be more deadly and contagious than the original, but may even start to affect the vaccinated population, and potentially even rekindle the global plague all over again.

Your bodily autonomy ends where my right to a hospital bed begins.

I know what you mean, but while 100% vaccination would be great, I think the more realistic goal is for “mandatory” vaccination to move the needle past herd immunity. The wager is that mandates imposed by workplaces and hospitality venues will sway the people who are on the fence, not that it will get everyone to vaccinate. Hopefully the percentage of true hardcore never-vaxxers will prove to be manageably small.

I would agree with that, but I would also apply it as a pro-life argument.

It’s very strange to see the SDMB embracing the intrinsic value of (old) human life while the religious right goes on and on about bodily autonomy. It kind of makes me wonder… have the Yankees managed to shake the goat curse yet in this reality?

My own pro-choice beliefs are pretty heavily influenced by the idea that a blastocyte and embryo and fetus lack the relevant traits of personhood (self-awareness, capacity to suffer, desires, fears, interests, etc.). The stronger an entity’s personhood, the more I think it must be balanced with another entity’s bodily autonomy.

You’re thinking of the Cubs, and you may have missed it but the Cubs won the World Series in 2016.

The Yankees had inflicted their own ‘curse of the Bambino’ on the Red Sox when the latter sold Babe Ruth, but the Sox won in 2004.


I think a large difference comes in where my abortion, my refusal to give blood, or my refusal to donate organs is about not providing something that might be necessary for someone else to live. My refusing to get vaccinated is about refusing to take precautions to stop actively spreading something that could be deadly to others. In one case I am refusing to consent to giving someone life saving assistance. In the other I am increasing my chances of passing something to someone without their consent.

It’s a well-established principle that there are very few, if any, “rights” which are absolute. There are times when society at large has a sufficiently great, legitimate interest in implementing something that technically violates someone’s rights, that we do it anyways.

It’s well-established that we have a right to freedom of speech, but that does not extend to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, or permitting slander or libel.

It’s well-established that we have a right to own property, but eminent domain can be used to transfer ownership to build new highways and the like.

In the US, you have the right to bear arms, but that does not extend to nuclear weapons, or even just grenades.

We have a right to bodily autonomy, but that does not extend to allowing people to potentially spread a disease for which there is a safe and effective vaccine.

[Foghorn Leghorn voice] That’s a joke - I say, that’s a joke, son! [/voice]
Guess I should have gone with the Brooklyn Dodgers reference.

This is my view. I am categorically opposed to categorical opposition. To my mind everything is a cost benefit analysis. Sure there are general heuristical rules that help us determine what the benefit is (e.g. freedom of speech is in and of itself a good thing) but if the cost is high enough (preventing people from being trampled due to a false call of fire) we should be willing to break the rule.