The first time I saw a photo of an anti-masker holding a sign that read “My body, my choice,” I was quite perplexed and a little thrown off.
Usually, the phrase is used as a response to conservatives who criticize women for choosing to end their pregnancies. In this context, when a woman says “My body, my choice,” it simply demonstrates how women must often defend themselves from an institution that believes they have the right to limit a person’s reproductive agency.
Recently, however, the phrase has been used to protest against a simple and painless public-health measure — vaccination.
When it comes to mask mandates and a push for vaccinations, conservatives dislike the idea of being told what to do, whether it’s to get vaccinated or something as simple as wearing a piece of fabric on their faces.
For this particular group, government regulation was fine unless it was regulating them. To the conservatives, being told what to do was apparently a horrible infringement of their civil liberties.
For the past two years, the United States has become an increasingly divided country –– socially, economically and politically. There are Democrats and Republicans, a right-wing and a left, immigrants and non-immigrants, liberals and conservatives, maskers and anti-maskers, and the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
As such, anti-vaxxers are becoming more prominent in the country and are often associated with the Republican Party. So, not only do they argue that being told to wear masks or get vaccinated is strictly an infringement of their rights as an American citizen, but they are also often against COVID-19 restrictions — such as lockdowns — and the possibility of using vaccine passports.
I think it’s interesting that conservatives frown upon women who make their own decisions on their pregnancy choices, as it is a choice that I believe is completely up to the woman because it’s her body. However, when it comes to mask mandates or vaccinations, some conservatives will argue against government regulations on the basis of “My body, my choice.”
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, which protected the federal right to abortion.
Across the country, 40% of voters currently believe that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, though less than a third want it overturned. The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments for a Missisippi case on abortion, and two justices have indicated that they may consider overturning Roe v. Wade.
A final decision on Roe v. Wade did not mean that abortion was completely legalized altogether. Since then, there have been laws passed across the country that restrict abortion access, such as the court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which required “a 24-hour waiting period, spousal notification, parental consent, a mandate that doctors give biased counseling to people seeking abortion health care, and burdensome reporting requirements.”
According to an article by The New York Times, the United States without Roe v. Wade would look differently for different people. Those who live in Democratic states would have an easier time accessing clinics and resources needed for abortion, while it would be much more difficult for low-income people who live in Republican states.
Regardless, a United States without Roe v. Wade could also lead to an increase of illegal abortions, which not only results in high maternal deaths but also creates serious physical and mental trauma for women without access – adding to a critical public health and human rights issue.
One of the largest federal protections to a person’s right to abortion is up to debate. If anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and conservatives actually believed in “My body, my choice,” why can’t they let women make their own choices? What gives them the right or the entitlement to decide how another woman should live their life?
These issues make me wonder, what happened to America’s “Liberty for all”? Is the United States simply moving backwards?