Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Defend Bodily Autonomy!

Does Public Health policy override the rights and bodily autonomy of an individual? Does it justify depriving unvaccinated children of an education?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once wrote to someone in 1955 who had inquired about whether they should vaccinate their child or not:

"They should do like the majority of children in the class"[1]. If the majority is vaccinated, the Rebbe reasoned, then it's worthwhile to immunize your child, since one ought not to separate oneself from the community, as our sages taught.[2]

However, without discussing the merits and modern-day applicability of the Rebbe’s advice[3], one thing is abundantly clear from his position:

While it might be praiseworthy to follow the majority, we cannot coerce the minority into submission.

To the contrary: while it may be prudent to follow the majority, be aware that there’s a minority of kids who don't vaccinate, and that's okay.

The Rebbe recommended following the majority in that instance, but he did not say that everyone must accede to the majority and that the non-compliant minority ought to be banned from school, an absurdly-anti-Jewish position that many rabbis nowadays have oddly espoused.

Instead, he clearly acknowledged a minority who does not vaccinate.

And you can still be like the majority if you choose. And that might even be laudatory, because of אל תפרוש מן הציבור, "Don't separate from the community," a teaching from Avot that inspires us to go beyond the letter of the law... but it's just that: beyond the letter of the law, no more and no less. We cannot and must not ever attempt to make it the law binding on everyone.

That would be anti-Jewish, anti-halacha, and anti-American.

We cannot enforce laudatory conduct, even if it is indeed laudatory nowadays (which is debatable, but let's leave that for now and assume it is).

If we attempt to mandate it and take away bodily autonomy of others, then we have lost our soul.

We are putting ourselves at risk of a far more serious and perilous disease than polio, pertussis, and measles combined. The disease of tyranny, the loss of freedom and bodily autonomy. Total government control. The end of minority rights. Dictatorship of the majority.

We cannot afford to succumb to that incurable condition. We must defend bodily autonomy at all costs, even if we disagree with the person's choices...

In our zeal to promote and safeguard public health, have we forgotten Patrick Henry's urgent cry, "Give me liberty or give me death!"? 

In our sincerest efforts to protect against death and illness, have we sacrificed our precious liberty?

I'd rather be at risk for catching measles any day than risk losing my freedoms to the dictates of an overreaching government in an Orwellian/dystopian society, which can happen at any time of we don't stand our guard... no nation is immune. There exists no quick fix or easy shot to immunize a population against tyranny, unfortunately. Human society has always vulnerable to that since time immemorial and especially nowadays in the era of mass-communication and increasing polarization, with alleged concentration camps at the border and suppression of free speech on campuses nationwide. Clearly we must be ever-vigilant to defend the rights and bodily autonomy of a minority, more so than ever before.

Our society cannot afford to sacrifice bodily freedom of the individual, even for the sake of public health. The stakes are just too high.

So no, we cannot force vaccines on anyone.

And we cannot ban a child from school for not being vaccinated. That would be the same as forcing vaccination, since leaving a child uneducated is obviously not a tenable option.

Depriving a child of an education is far worse than corporal punishment. In fact, in Judaism, it’s akin to capital punishment. Needless to say, threatening to banish a child from school amounts to coercive extortion that cannot be tolerated in a free society.

Consequently, our schools have no choice but to accommodate the unvaccinated minority, a simple and indisputable truth that the Rebbe took for granted back in 1955, at the height of the polio outbreak.

Yes, free choice and bodily autonomy in the U.S.A., land of the free... isn't that a wonderful thing?

Let's keep it that way.

[1] Igros Kodesh volume 11, letter 3,525.
[2] Avos 2:4.
[3] Or whether the Rebbe’s advice even applies to current vaccine schedule 64 years and 70 additional shots later -- 72 shots in 2019 versus 2 shots in 1955. Furthermore, the most salient qualification that the Rebbe often reiterated in his letters is that it should first be ascertained that the vaccine was produced by an upstanding and reliable manufacturer and is known to be safe. If a parent researches any particular vaccine and its manufacturer and discovers that there have been vaccine-related injuries, it’s questionable whether the Rebbe would have still been in favor of it. Many vaccine-related injuries are reported each year, and it behooves each parent to do his/her due diligence, as per the Rebbe’s advice.

No comments:

Post a Comment