At the same time that the nation is awaiting the Supreme Court’s long-awaited ruling on Roe v. Wade, there has been a renewed uptick in conversations about vaccines as “rising cases” of Covid and now Monkey Pox are in the news again. These two topics have not only brought back the topic of vaccines, masks, and their mandates, but the attempt by some conservatives to fight for their right not to take the Covid vaccine by adopting the pro-abortion slogan, “My body, my choice.”
Hey, if it is good enough to justify abortion, surely it is good enough to shield me from the shot. Right? I get it. It’s clever. It’s a turn of phrase that reflects the left’s hypocrisy, as many defenders of abortion also want to mandate the shot. It uses their own logic against them, “Aha! You have been hoisted on your own petard!” we may proudly gloat. But there are several reasons why anti-vaxxers (either the “all vaccines” variety or just the “Covid vaccine” variety) should not adopt this phrase. Let’s look at each in turn.
Don’t Legitimize the Phrase
First off, let’s not legitimize a terrible phrase, a phrase which itself is not fully true in the Christian worldview. Of course, it is true in the sense that we, as human beings, are a soul and a body (throw in spirit as well if you like; it isn’t a hill I will die on). Our bodies are important; they are part of what make us “us.” It is a crime to murder or rape or harm any of “us” for that reason, and is why we have a right to defend ourselves because these are indeed “our” bodies in the civic realm. But that only tells half the story.
For these are not our bodies in an absolute sense. That is, we are not free to do whatever we want with them as a sole proprietor. The Bible could not be any clearer on this, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:19-20, ESV) We are, therefore, stewards of our bodies, and as such, there are certain things we ought not do with them for they blaspheme God. Paul is saying that certain acts mock God by ignoring the purpose of His design.
So, conceding that these are “our bodies” without clarification is at best communicating a half-truth and at worst giving credence to a terrible phrase. In fact, the better argument against the vaccine would be to say that because these are not our bodies, I cannot take what I believe to be a harmful, experimental medication. In the context of the argument I am making here, the exact reasons for not taking the jab are irrelevant if we believe people should have the right not to take medicine, especially without informed consent.
By the way, someone might argue that because these are God’s bodies, I should take the vaccine as a wise steward. Better to take the shot than die early from Covid. Fine. I’m not debating the merits of the shot or the risk/benefit analysis. But hopefully the point is clear. To use the phrase gives it legitimacy, and it is not an acceptable phrase for Christians. Because when it comes to matters of health, conscience, and life itself, these are not our bodies. They belong to God.
Don’t Confuse Categories
Secondly, refusing the vaccine and having an abortion are not comparable scenarios. In the context of abortion, the phrase is an absolute lie because at least two bodies (the woman and the child/children) are involved. To be honest, a better and more accurate (and cynical) rephrasing should be "Our body, my choice" since it should be obvious that the child has no choice in the matter. In the context of the vaccine though, only one body is, in fact, involved (unless one considers potential collateral damage as a result of a vaccine injury).
Now, the phrase does not justify abortion precisely because the harm done by abortion is not done (only) to the woman’s body, but to the baby’s body as well! The entire debate is indeed around bodily autonomy, but the pro-choice side mistakenly believes that her body and her child’s body are the same body, so to have rights over one is to have rights over both. The pro-life side follows the science that says the baby’s body is unique and distinct from the mother and not the same as the woman’s body. Therefore, the woman does not have the freedom of choice over someone else’s body.
The inability or lack of desire to make a distinction between these two bodies is precisely why pro-aborts have a hard time saying when life deserves protection: because wherever they draw a line, it will be arbitrary. It will be a line that does not mark a fundamental difference in the nature of the child. One day before or after any line (three months, 6 weeks, birth itself) is not fundamentally different from the next. Even birth does not represent a fundamental difference as a born child is still completely dependent on his/her mother for sustenance and life, and that is why some are willing to say that the mother has a right to kill her child even after birth. Hopefully this is a fringe position!
But the point is that you can oppose abortion and believe in bodily autonomy. That is not hypocrisy because a vaccine really only concerns one person and their own body while abortion concerns two people, one with absolute power over the other.
Please Stop Using the Phrase and Aim Higher
So, let’s use different and better arguments. Let’s teach the world what “informed consent” means and remember what Emergency Use Authorization actually means. Let’s frame it on the grounds of human rights, because then we are consistent when we argue for our rights and the rights of the unborn. Let’s talk about the freedom of conscience. But let’s not confuse the our right to bodily autonomy with the professed “right” of a mother to kill her unborn child. To borrow the rhetoric gives that lie way too much credit.