‘My Body, My Choice’ but its my wellbeing, your vaccine

Gillian Reynolds


Stemming from the 1970s, the phrase “my body, my choice” has gained worldwide popularity. Feminists first coined the phrase to fight for self-determination over their bodies as well as their sexual and reproductive rights, and it has been carried through history as a staple in advocating for women’s rights. The phrase is often used when referring to abortion and consent, but also as a term for joining women together and empowering them to fight for their rights. 

When the pandemic began, this phrase was quickly changed and used as an argument for those who opposed getting the COVID-19 vaccination (anti-vaxxers). Anti-vaxxers used this phrase to advocate for their right to do what they pleased with their bodies and not get vaccinated. However, those who use “my body my choice” to avoid getting the vaccine forget one fundamental factor: the pandemic and women’s rights are two entirely different issues. Picking and choosing when to use this argument is invalid as it contradicts and defeats the original purpose of the phrase.

Art by Calla McBride

These differences are not only in the situations themselves, but the background behind them and why they are so important. Abortion is a medical procedure women can choose to undergo in order to terminate a pregnancy for various valid reasons. As opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine, where refusing to get it can negatively affect other individuals, whether or not someone gets an abortion has little to no impact on anyone but those involved in the pregnancy. Abortion itself is a global problem because many women do not have the right to choose whether they can have an abortion, even in situations of rape or incest. Economic and social issues also play a role, where 96 percent of abortions are performed as a result of not having a stable source of income or not being able to mentally take on the responsibility of being a parent. Other reasons include fetal deficiency and danger to the life of the impregnated person. The right to abortion is a necessity, as are guidelines and vaccines for COVID-19. Advocating against vaccines, however, with a phrase used for an entirely different social issue, is contradicting and hypocritical. 

Some may argue that COVID-19 mandates and vaccines are also a global human rights  issue. Due to reasons regarding beliefs, religion, government trust and more, many people choose not to get vaccinated. According to a Carnegie Mellon report released in March 2021, about 23 percent of respondents [people in the U.S.] are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

While this hesitance could be due to various reasons, COVID-19 mandates are not an issue of human rights, but an issue of world safety. Masks, social distancing and vaccines, are all attempts to help people, not harm them. While it is often argued that these precautions infringe upon individual rights, these mandates are for the safety of everyone to prevent a deadly virus from spreading. In contrast, abortion only impacts the pregnant party, not the safety of the entire world. Choosing to be a part of the pro-life movement means the support of all life, so wouldn’t you want to help save all others’ lives by getting vaccinated and abiding by mandates? Demonstrations against mandates have begun to use a term not designed for the situation, but they have also begun to associate this phrase with violence and harassment of those who enforce mandates. 

At the beginning of November 2021, a group of protesters on Staten Island used the phrase to protest against children’s vaccine mandates. 

“My body, my choice” is a peaceful but powerful phrase, with a reputation for uplifting women. It is not a phrase that should be used as an excuse for violent actions. For instance, some health care officials and educators who enforce wearing masks have been physically harmed by anti-vaxxers. 

The point that “my body, my choice” shouldn’t be used as an excuse against vaccines is not to take away the right to control what we do with our bodies; instead, it is that the original intention of “my body, my choice” has been completely misconstrued and has turned into a threatening phrase.

 In an article done by Madison Dodd on the topic of “my body, my choice” and anti-vaxxers, she stated, “Many people who claim to be Pro-Life are some of the same people choosing not to wear a mask in public and using the feminist phrase to fit their agendas. However, by not wearing a mask in public, these people are putting other lives at risk.” This quote shows how many anti-vaxxers are picking and choosing when to use this term, and how harmful it is to others who are in danger of contracting COVID-19. 

It is invalid to try and compare these two situations, especially when one chooses to only support one of them. To not have a right over your own body, like all women once did and many still do, is not the same, nor will ever be the same as wanting to defy health mandates put into place for the safety of one’s friends, family and the world. Health mandates and vaccines are there for a reason, and the sole purpose is to help get us through this pandemic safely. The pro-choice abortion and women’s rights movement is a human rights movement; the vaccine is a pandemic prevention method.