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Anti-vaxxers suddenly eager to be pro-choice

Exploring the language of ‘choice’ in anti-vaccine and reproductive justice movements

  • Updated
  • 10
  • 2 min to read

Olivia Oomen @oliviaoomenart

We live in unprecedented times. God, don’t you just love to hear that phrase?

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve had a bit of a spike in terrible, weird, and unjust things that have been happening — both in real life and on our social media timelines.

This summer, a relatively recent development was seeing and reading about anti-vaccine and anti-mask individuals talking a whole lot about the “freedom of choice.” In an irritating turn of events, typically anti-choice and anti-abortion white women were seen holding signs saying “my body, my choice.”

Funnily enough, abortion rights were simultaneously being stripped in states like Texas and Mississippi

It is interesting, at the very least, to see anti-vaccine conservatives preach about choice when it comes to getting vaccinated against a deadly virus with numerous variants, while at the same time calling themselves “pro-life” and fighting against choice when it comes to abortion access. 

This terrible parallel definitely has not gone unnoticed.

“They were instead protesting a simple and painless public-health measure,” Molly Jong-Fast wrote for Vogue. “They were mad at the idea of having to wear a piece of fabric on their faces. For this particular group, government regulation was fine unless it was regulating them — at which point it became a horrible infringement on their constitutional rights.”

Organizers of freedom rallies that have happened all across the United States are part of the camp who want the “freedom” to choose not to get vaccinated and mask up. Many of these actions have actually resulted in organizers contracting COVID-19 — sometimes causing their deaths.

The hypocrisy is strong with the pro-life, anti-vaccine, anti-mask folks; regardless of how tragic any death is, it’s hard to have sympathy for people risking their lives on an anti-vaccine crusade while there have been more than half a million recorded coronavirus-related deaths in this country alone.

The anti-vaccine and anti-mask conservatives seem to somehow stand for “life” in the case of abortions. However, choosing not to get vaccinated for reasons unrelated to vaccine access or medical conditions is debilitating not just for yourself but the people around you.

Exercising the freedom to not get vaccinated or wear a mask is ultimately a dangerous, uninformed, individualistic notion that actually does more harm than good in the name of rights and freedom.

Meanwhile, the original pro-choice verbiage that advocates for reproductive justice and rights does much more good than harm for people with uteruses. Also, the choice to get an abortion doesn’t affect anyone other than the person receiving the abortion.

Abortion doesn’t cause death, and sometimes, it actually saves the life of the pregnant person.

But alas, co-optation strikes again in anti-vaccine individuals’ manipulation of the way reproductive justice organizers talk about “choice,” fulfilling a dangerous agenda.

Words mean things. It is laughable to see typically anti-choice individuals eager to talk about choice all of a sudden when it comes to something as instrumental as vaccinations during an ongoing global public health crisis.

The terrible irony continues when you consider that abortion access in the United States is being stripped away in real-time — which harms many with the ability to get pregnant, especially Black and brown people, contrary to the “Handmaid’s Tale” parallel beloved by many white women.

People are fighting for their right to choose to not get vaccinated, thus, endangering everyone around them, while people are harmed or die due to low, non-existent, or unsafe abortion access

How interesting that this is the struggle that the anti-vaccine folks have chosen.

Reach Opinion Editor Deborah Kwon at Twitter: @scoobydeeby

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(10) comments

More Inclusive than Thou

Anti-vaxxers suddenly eager to be pro-choice

And are those who have been claiming the pro-choice title now supporting anti-vaxers freedom of choice?

Seems an inescapable irony there in the title, no?

Have we gone so far in this tha "Pro-Choice" only and in the broad light of day is a perfectly arbitrary symbol to be only applied to supporting and increasing the legality of abortion?

Frankly it seems a pretty stupid thing to bring up if one is trying to be anti-anti-vaxxer.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the vaccine only minimize the symptoms? In fact it does NOT prevent infection. If that's TRUE then where's the logic in mandating people who don't want the injection to get the injection? maybe its les about public safety and more about obedience and the mask is an outward symbol of this obedience.


When the DNA is the same. A mother has distinctly different DNA from the unborn fetus in the womb. Only matching via the mitochondrial DNA whos is passed from mother to child. Soooo its not the same.


I sure do hope that your experience at the UW helps to open your mind to a more tolerant view of the world, your opinions seem to be rather one-sided, and parroted. Unfortunately this is the case with many regarding Covid, and my hope for you to learn how to "Think and Reason" during your time at the UW, I'm afraid may be barren. Please, do your fellow cohorts a favor and try harder next time.....


I wonder if the writers and editors of this piece have researched for the 5 minutes needed to understand that some of the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy are among black and brown communities. Are these the so-called white-supremacists to whom you refer? To cover this issue accurately, why not interview some of the people on campus choosing not to submit to vaccination? I'm sure the folks at UW for Choice would be more than happy to have a civil conversation. If your goal is to convince more people to get vaccinated, surely talking to dissenters would be a better course of action than demonizing and mischaracterizing them? (P.S. Some of us have been consistently pro-choice all along...)


The article is fallacious as abortion and vaccination are different concepts.

However, it is difficult to tie these hot button issues together.


In response to the line where you said "it’s hard to have sympathy for people risking their lives on an anti-vaccine crusade while there have been more than half a million recorded coronavirus-related deaths in this country alone" I'm also deeply sorry you have difficulty sympathizing when someone dies. If this is common among my fellow UW students, I am concerned about the toxic environment at my school that I'm about to walk into. Empathy, takes far more than just sympathy. How can we ever get there if people at our school cant even sympathize with someone that makes the same bodily autonomy argument that they do?


What do pro choicers and anti-vaxxers have in common? They both take bodily autonomy to ethical extremes. Personally, I choose to protect human life, at all stages of life, from conception to old age, from all types of "choices" that will harm others. And yes that means I mask up, vax up and socially distance EVEN when I'm fully vaccinated.


ok, cool. that's your choice, but if your vaccinated then you're protected right? So whats with all the PPE gear?


I personally know people who have been injured from a covid vaccination. I also know people who have had covid. Either way you take a risk. Not everyone advocating for freedom of choice is anti abortion and not everyone who is pro vaccine is pro vaccine mandate. It just seems very closed minded to group people together. People are not binary and by calling people names and implying they are uninformed because they hold a different belief is a form of intolerance. It also does not make logical sense to say that only unvaccinated people are putting people at risk seeing as that those who are vaccinated can still catch and spread covid. Why is natural immunity also being tossed aside? The studies out of Israel have shown that natural immunity is more effective than artificial immunity in those who have not had a pervious infection. It’s important to speak with those you disagree with before you start making assumptions. First seek to understand, then be understood.

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