Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
In our discussions as pro-life advocates about abortion, we often run into bodily autonomy arguments. These maintain that, because people have a right to control what happens to or in their bodies, or—at the very least—have the right to refuse to allow someone else to use their bodies, abortion must be permitted. These positions are usually oversimplified as the assertion “my body, my choice.”
ERI has already substantially discussed bodily autonomy arguments within the Equipped for Life Course, as well as in several blog posts and videos. As such, this article will not focus on understanding and responding to bodily autonomy arguments generally. Instead, before campus outreach begins again, I want to prepare you to navigate the discussion about bodily autonomy in light of the controversies about COVID-19 masks and vaccine mandates. While often framed as an instance of inconsistency among pro-choice or pro-life individuals, the differing positions about mask/vaccine mandates actually highlights an important point of common ground and clarification in our discussions of bodily autonomy.
If someone brings up mask/vaccine mandates in your conversations, you should first take a beat to remind yourself to practice charitable interpretation. Remember why the different positions on mask/vaccine mandates might seem at odds with someone’s position on abortion. Then, respond by highlighting the common ground that the mask/vaccine mandates reveal about most people’s positions on the limits of bodily autonomy and transition the discussion back to abortion. I will discuss each of these steps more fully below.