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  • Limits of Bodily Autonomy

    June 27th, 2022
    abortion, covid-19, policy
    Bodily autonomy is a strong consideration in favor of both abortion and optional vaccination. Because it is not the only consideration, however, many of us are in favor of abortion for anyone who wants one while also seeing some cases in which we favor mandatory vaccination. I've recently seen posts from friends supporting the right to abortion, such as shares of screenshots of this tweet:

    If you don't accept that bodily autonomy is an essential unconditional liberty, it's a waste of time talking to you at all. No other liberties survive without that one, more fundamental than property rights: if you don't own yourself absolutely, you own nothing.

    @ScavengerEthic

    In some ways this is similar to the use of the slogan 'my body, my choice', but I don't think people generally interpret short phrases as a complete argument; a slogan often draws attention to a major consideration without claiming it's decisive. In this case, however, people are sharing statements that do claim to be a full argument, and make the case for abortion in a way that also makes the case against vaccination requirements.

    Q: A right to abortion isn't anything like a right to refuse vaccination! Their impact is very different, and there are lots of other considerations: vaccination prevents something contagious, pregnancy and childbirth can be deeply difficult, unpleasant, and dangerous, etc.

    A: I agree. Which is why we should make the case for these policies in a way that depends on those considerations, instead of resting the entire case on autonomy.

    Q: I do think bodily autonomy is an essential unconditional liberty, and I'm opposed to both abortion bans and vaccination requirements.

    A: That's a consistent position, but you're not my audience here.

    Q: A vaccine mandate doesn't mean you'll have one forced on you, it just means you can't go certain places. That's very different from threatening jail time for abortions.

    A: If the court had ruled that states could exclude people who had ever had an abortion from restaurants, gyms, universities, and jobs in healthcare, government, or schooling, we would see this as very nearly as bad as a blanket prohibition an abortion. But I would also go farther: a future pandemic could be much worse than covid, and I could see one in which we would need to choose between literally mandatory vaccination and the lives of immunocompromised people.

    Comment via: facebook, lesswrong

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