“Because I don’t take a shot they can send me to jail? I don’t agree with that,” he said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to get off this as quickly as possible, like finding a job and everything else. But that little thing (COVID vaccine) can set me back.”
Bodily integrity, also commonly referred to as bodily autonomy, is a longstanding principle of human rights and individual liberty. In recent years, discussion on this topic has centered around the #MeToo movement regarding sexual harassment and abuse in many of our institutions. It is obvious that violating another person’s body is inherently wrong; no one questions this premise when discussing matters of sexual violence.
As an example, a Tennessee judge and sheriff launched a forced-sterilization program for inmates around 2017. They allowed people in jail to shorten their sentences by 30 days if they agreed to the medical procedures. They were, thankfully, sued over this and the program was overturned on constitutional grounds. The attorney who obtained justice in this case, Daniel Horwitz, said at the time, “Inmate sterilization is despicable, it is morally indefensible, and it is illegal.”
Forced sterilization among inmates isn’t the only medical crime against bodily autonomy in our past either. In 1932, the Tuskegee Experiment was launched and ran for decades. The United States Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted the study, during which they lied to the 600 black male participants about their syphilis status and told them they were receiving free healthcare. In reality, they were given placebos, ineffective treatments, and denied penicillin—even as it became widely available as a treatment for syphilis. The particular case elevated the issue of informed consent in medical procedures and highlighted how far the country still had to go in respecting inalienable rights, including “The right of the people to be secure in their persons,” as articulated in the US Constitution.thefreethoughtproject Get Vaccinated or Go to Jail’ — Judge Orders Man to Get COVID-19 Vaccine