‘My body my choice’ does not apply to COVID-19

Angel Baikakedi, Columnist

“My body, my choice.” We’ve repeatedly come across this phrase, particularly in social media movements and in the conversation around abortion rights. However, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the term has been used in the campaign against mask mandates, and has been transformed into a reason against getting the vaccine. Not only is this detrimental to the fight for equal reproductive rights, but it says a lot about how many people understand the term “equality.” 

To begin with, let me make one thing clear: COVID-19 prevention and seeking the right to abortion are on two different ends of the spectrum when it comes to the “my body, my choice” argument. If we’re being honest, COVID-19 prevention and following COVID-19 protocol shouldn’t even be a topic to debate, since it has a ripple effect on the greater community, both nationally and globally. Whereas whether or not someone wants an abortion really doesn’t impact anyone besides the individual(s) involved.

The right to make decisions about one’s own body shouldn’t be up for debate either. The fact that it is, and that it’s a decision that’s only applicable to half of the population highlights the sidelining done by lawmakers and their legislature to sideline minority groups across the board. Furthermore, it is unfair that politicians are using pro-choice rhetoric in the context of the pandemic, and calling pro-choice people who are in support of vaccines and the mask mandate hypocrites. 

I think one of the biggest problems of applying the logic of “pro-choice” in the context of COVID-19 is that mask and vaccine mandates aren’t taking away anyone’s right to liberty. One can literally go about their daily life with a mask, but limiting people’s choices has long-standing effects on reproductive health.

One of the most frustrating parts of people instrumentalizing pro-choice rhetoric is that, for the most part, they don’t even really believe that masks or vaccines will inhibit their way of life in any way. 

Instead, it is a movement used to pit political agendas against each other. It serves as a form of retaliation, and repurposing of liberal logic in service of a different agenda. If a liberal can advocate for reproductive rights in the name of being pro-choice, why can’t a conservative do the same in the context of the mask mandate and vaccines? The right’s repurposing of the pro-choice argument exposes the hypocrisy of opposing “my body, my choice” in the context of reproductive freedom. 

“My body, my choice” isn’t just a phrase that can be repurposed to serve the right when it is politically convenient, and reproductive rights are not a scapegoat for pushing political agendas.