Richard Elfers is a columnist, a former Enumclaw City Council member and a Green River College professor.

Ironies over individual rights | In Focus

What do we mean by “My body, my choice?”

I recently saw a picture on the cover of the Sept. 3, 2021 Christian Science Monitor of women standing, with their fists in the air, protesting the new Texas law banning abortions, a law which was quickly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Their T-shirts stated: “Bans Off Our Bodies!”

There are those on the religious right who have come out strongly against mandated vaccinations, arguing that we have a right to control our own bodies.

At long last, there was unity between the left and right!

Both want the power to control their own bodies. The irony is stark.

Religious conservatives want the right to not be vaccinated. Pro-choice progressives want to be able to decide whether or not to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. In both cases, the lives of innocents hang in the balance. Neither side seems to see the irony that both are demanding control over their own bodies.

Religious conservatives theorize that the State should not give women the right to end unwanted pregnancies. They might say, “No one should have the right to murder a fetus. It’s immoral. Life is precious and should be preserved.”

Yet these same religious conservatives argue that it is their right to refuse COVID-19 vaccinations on religious grounds. It doesn’t seem to matter that their refusal may result in their own deaths or the deaths of loved ones, including children, and other people around them.

Nowhere in the Bible do I find scriptures relating to vaccinations. There is a verse in I Corinthians 6:19 where the Apostle Paul tells Christians: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own….” Other scriptures refer to our bodies as being the temple of God.

Since the government requires vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox and polio, and most religious conservatives have had these shots as children and/or have had them given to their children, how are the COVID-19 vaccinations any different? If the COVID vaccinations desecrate the temple of God, wouldn’t MMR and polio and smallpox vaccinations also fall in the same category? It seems some in the religious right are confusing their political views with their theology.

For those Christian readers, what ever happened to following the Apostle Paul’s admonition found in Romans 13:1-2?

“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is from God. The authorities that exist have been appointed by God. Consequently, whoever resists authority is opposing what God has set in place, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

Doesn’t obeying the government for those religious conservatives in the educational, military, and medical fields mean following Paul’s admonition and obeying that government?

Those who might argue that mandating COVID vaccinations will set a bad precedent should remember that banning abortions has already set that precedent and so has the vaccination requirement for students and those in the military.

Don’t get diverted by the vaccination issue. Stick with my main point of whether we have the right to control our bodies or not by being pro-choice as much as we have the right not to be vaccinated. There is no difference between the two decisions, except that abortion is a problem women face, while getting or not getting a vaccination applies to all.

Isn’t it also ironic that those on the left who demand the right to make a choice for their own bodies and call themselves pro-choice will favor mandatory vaccinations for COVID?

Those on the left at least understand that there are limits to individual freedoms. Ones’ rights stop when they infringe on the welfare of others. Concern for the common good plays a part.

It’s good to remember the words attributed to Jonathan Swift: “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

This is certainly true in our insane era of political and religious divisions.


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What do we mean by “My body, my choice?”

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