How to Hold Onto Your Bodily Autonomy

if it isn't enthusiastic, it isn't consent

A friend told me today that she’s giving in to the pressure and getting vaccinated. She has so many life-threatening allergies that she keeps Epi Pens in every purse, pocket, and glove compartment; she is a 24-year-old marathon runner in, apart from the allergies, phenomenal health; she had and recovered from COVID easily in the summer of 2020, returning to normal activities in four days. Her risk/benefit calculation came down on the side of not getting vaccinated, particularly given that she has natural immunity, and since nearly everyone she knows has had much worse reactions to the vaccinations than she had to COVID itself. She has no paid sick leave and a vaccine reaction like that her brother, mother, or roommate had will cause her enormous difficulty, since it would make her have to miss work. So why do it?

Nearly everyone in her life is pressuring her, implying that she is a would-be murderer at best, a secret Trump supporter at worst, if she declines. She is tired of the pressure and of defending herself. She has been pressured into surrendering her bodily autonomy to the will of the crowd.

The crowd, in this case made up of people she loves, and whom she wants to believe love her, care nothing for her desires, judgement, her own risk assessment about her own body. They demand that she comply, and she is, reluctantly, going to do so.

Bodily autonomy is something that I’ve spent my entire adult life focused on understanding and reclaiming. Having had it taken from me repeatedly as a child is the source of my deepest wounds, and as such I have some thoughts about how to hold onto it when others are trying to remove it.

First, some comments on vax passports more generally.

Be Careful What You Wish For…

Many members of the far Left (and some members of the COVID-exhausted middle who seem to not be thinking very hard) are cheering for vaccine passports. It would seem that a scant 6 months after Trump left office, they have forgotten what it is to have a POTUS whose policies they would spend their lives opposing at the top of their lungs. They appear wholly unable to think even one step ahead.

If you aren’t thinking about the unintended consequences that will flow from vaccine passports, you are betraying yourself, your children, and your grandchildren.

Extremely Effing Obvious Unintended Consequence #1:

When the infrastructure is put in place for vaccine passports, medical privacy will either be greatly diminished or, perhaps, cease to exist.

Roe vs. Wade, the basis for the right to terminate a pregnancy, was based on the right to privacy. And the left is cheering, chanting, advocating, and in some cases begging the government to eliminate the right to medical privacy, either by law or by default, making vax passports a condition to work, shop, or travel.

Once medical information is available in a portable, electronic format and the infrastructure is put in place for businesses, governments, schools, and other entities to require you to surrender it on demand, there is no way to prevent, say, Dallas from declaring itself a sanctuary city (remember those?) for the pre-born, and requiring pregnant visitors to submit to regular checks to be sure they aren’t terminating their pregnancies. Or perhaps simply for red cities in red states to offer incentives not to abort by accessing the number and outcome of pregnancies.

Sounds crazy, right? Remember that we are talking about people on the LEFT advocating for Americans to be required to submit to an injection from a Big Pharma company in order to be permitted to work, shop, or travel.

Friends, we already live in crazy town. We are now debating how many rooms to add on to the house.

Extremely Effing Obvious Unintended Consequence #2:

If vax passports happen, the poor are totally hosed. When stores can require them for COVID, there is no way to stop them from requiring them for other things. Have a bad reaction to the flu vaccine (or no insurance, or just prefer not to get injected every winter)? Better get one of those platinum Instacart memberships. Better hope you get paid sick leave, and save it up for however you react to the next shot for the Gamma Gamma Gamma variant.

Better hope you enjoy being required to get vaccinated against everything that poses even a minimal risk to anyone else, as children are the most often cited reason why we need vax passports, and schools aren’t reopening everywhere even now — despite children being at less risk from COVID than from the flu. Big pharma and the politicians they own will decide what you need to be vaccinated for and you’ll have a choice, sort of — if you enjoy working, shopping, and traveling.

Once our society changes to accept the normality of medical segregation and the right to be denied services based on other people’s opinions of the risk assessments you made about your body, we won’t get it back.

You doubt me? Eighteen months ago today, it was the last week of January 2020. Who could possibly have predicted that working from home would entirely up-end every industry that could conceivably be done from home? Yet, we are here.

When do you think that will go back to the way it was in the before times?

Now, what changes more easily — marketplace conditions, or governments in the direction of giving up power?

Extremely Effing Obvious Unintended Consequence #3:

The right of churches, synagogues, mosques, and sanghas to meet will inevitably be infringed. It makes no sense to have a vax passport system, yet permit large groups of potentially unvaxxed and vaxxed to meet several times a week. These communities (along with meetup groups, book clubs, and the like) will be required by law to use the vax passports.

So will schools, sporting events, school board meetings, town halls, town councils, concerts, protests, rallies, parades, ubers, buses/other public transport, restaurants, and more.

Not forever! I hear some of you saying. Just until the pandemic is under control!

I still have the emails my professors sent in March 2020, when we were sent home for the rest of the semester. “We’re all going to get it, so let’s just be careful we don’t all get it at the same time and overload the hospitals. If/when you get it, let me know and I’ll work with you on deadlines.”

We are entering month seventeen of “15 Days to Flatten the Curve.”

Extremely Effing Obvious Unintended Consequence #4:

Once medical privacy is eliminated or greatly diminished, people will be even more reluctant to get mental health help than they already are. This will have only negative consequences, particularly for people who are struggling with suicide.

Extremely Effing Obvious Unintended Consequence #5:

Precedent is, while not all-powerful, enormously important in American jurisprudence. Once the vax passport precedent is set, that power will always be there waiting to be used.

Struggle with me to imagine this far-fetched, improbable scenario: one day there might be a hugely unpopular President whose administration will not be full of people you want to know your business, and there might perhaps be an emergency — say, something about which some people with more degrees than a thermometer are willing to construct scary mathematical models.

Whatever power we give to this President, we are giving to the worst and most unimaginably awful President yet to come.

How to Stand Up For Your Bodily Autonomy

If vax passports indeed happen, and if you have decided that your personal risk assessment for your personal situation is that the vaccine is not the right choice for you, your life is about to get much more difficult and complicated. This is a punishment the far Left is salivating to inflict on dissenters.

It will be hard not to give in to the crowd. But hard doesn’t have to equal bad.

Struggle and suffering are enormously valuable. Two years from today, who will be stronger? Whose character will be more fully formed, whose sense of self more solidified, whose principles more deeply held? Who will have learned the most, gained the most wisdom? Who will be the best possible version of themselves?

Will it be the people who gave in to the pressure and rolled up their sleeve to get the crowd to leave them alone?

Or will it be the people who took responsibility for defending their right to exercise control over their own bodies—and refused to allow the will of others to take it away?

If people close to you are pressuring you, I am sorry to be the one to tell you that they do not love you in a healthy way. Love is about recognizing and respecting the virtue in another, not control or imposition of will.

Anyone who cannot tolerate a disagreement with you, does not love you.

If you don’t know this—really know it, in the marrow of your bones—you may have to trust me. I learned it only last year, but it was powerfully transformative. I told two friends, people I respect and whose good opinion of me matters to me, that I was going to vote differently from them in the election. I gave my reasons and held my breath, though emotionally I was ducking and looking for cover. Each responded with respect for the thought that went into my decision and love for me as a person, and the relationships went on, unchanged—though my sense of being valued, well, that definitely changed me.

That is love.

“If you didn’t want me dead, you’d agree with me/vote my way/have your body injected with the medical product I believe necessary….” That is not love.

I am in the extremely fortunate position of having nobody else dependent on my income. If you have responsibilities to other people with your paycheck, and your employer is requiring you to be injected, I am deeply sorry for the position you’re in. I encourage you to look for other work.

An employer who believes their judgment as to what is right for you and your body should supercede yours does not deserve your labor, your talents, your energy, and forty hours a week of your one and only life. If your children are old enough to understand, use this as a teaching moment. Sit them down and discuss the value of freedom. Talk to them about the people who died for freedom, and that they have the privilege of making a smaller sacrifice, doing a little belt-tightening while you find another job. Make them feel like a soldier, and this can be a very powerful, character-forging event, rather than a traumatic one.

What Matters Most

Relationships and jobs matter — a lot. I know this more viscerally than most.

I have spent more than one Christmas alone and missed hundreds of meals. The reality of the suffering that comes when one is alone and financially challenged is a reality I know well, though things have gotten (much) better.

Some things matter more. Refusing to betray oneself is high on that list.

If you have given it serious thought, and your personal risk assessment for your individual situation is that getting vaccinated (at least now) is not right for you, own that with your whole being. Take the same responsibility for protecting that right as you would for protecting your life — because the right to bodily autonomy and the right to life are the same.

There are some who would argue that your refusal to get vaccinated threatens their lives. This is nonsense. If the vaccines are effective, their right to get vaccinated is their protection. If the vaccines are ineffective to the point that your unvaccinated body truly does present a threat — especially if, like me, you benefit from the natural immunity of having previously had and recovered from COVID — then you are being pressured to take a medical product that can scarcely be called a vaccine, and every point made previously applies doubly.

Consent is Enthusiastic, or It Isn’t Consent

You have the right to only undergo medical procedures for which you have given your explicit and enthusiastic consent.

Know that this is your right as deeply as it is your right to decide whether to bear a child or abort one, whether to get a tattoo, whether to eat a vegetarian or keto diet. Refuse to allow anyone to take it from you.

I believe in you.