In the media there is an ongoing and volatile conversation that is happening about medical freedom within the greater context of our generally deteriorating civil rights. The general acceptance that the public sphere is controlled by private corporations, such as private prisons, and corporations bottling and selling groundwater for private profit, continues to expand. State control of the private sphere of people’s lives has increased with programs like the PRISM program of US intelligence and the NSA, which monitors internet communication, as well as the increasing ability of the government to spy on people via satellites and cameras. The deterioration of the privacy of individuals has a manifestation which increasingly infringes on people’s actual bodies: the limits and restrictions on medical freedom. Let’s look at just a few examples.
Government bans on abortion
The right to a safe and legal abortion has increasingly been limited in the United States. What was once available under Roe vs. Wade now loses more ground every year. In many parts of the U.S., it is no longer possible for poor people or young people to obtain safe or legal abortions. If you do not want to have an abortion, don’t get one, but does the state have the right to enforce this ban on all people? With RBG’s seat vacant on the Supreme Court, there’s also the possibility that abortion rights may be at risk nationwide via federal mandate.
Mandatory vaccination programs
Where once it was possible to get religious exemptions to avoid vaccinating yourself or your children, this is increasingly less possible. One notable upcoming example is the coronavirus vaccine. Perhaps you want to argue that it should be mandatory, but is this actually illegal under the Constitution? Do we have the right to force people like members of the Nation of Islam to vaccinate their children if they want to enroll them in public school, despite the Honorable Minister Farakhan’s criticism of the vaccination process? With the historically heinous and racist actions of the medical establishment against Black people, does the state have the right to mandate that every Black parent inject their children with vaccines created by the same medical establishment that perpetrated the horrors of the Tuskagee Syphilis crimes, and other racist and white supremacist acts of terror against people of black African descent? For more on this, read this. If people don’t want to get vaccinated, shouldn’t that be their right? Does the state have the right to force people to obey on the level of an experimental vaccine with the history of this country being what it is?
Limitations on prescription of gender changing hormones
Increasingly in the U.S., there are right wing forces who have attempted to limit the ability of doctors to prescribe hormone therapy, including criminalizing the practice in some states. Making it illegal to be transgender is a very high level of state control over people’s bodies. In spite of what people like JK Rowling claim, the World Health Organization states, “Developmental biology suggests that a strict belief in absolute sexual dimorphism is incorrect.” You can read more about this on their website, but the gist of it is due to intersex and the wide range of variations in hormones; gender genetically falls more into bell curves than in a binary. Again, according to science, the gender binary does not exist. So the concept that it must be enforced as such is based on personal opinion, not science. If you want to believe in a gender binary fine, but does the state have the right to enforce this as a mandatory reality for all people?
Increasingly, we see our freedoms in the United States being eroded and diminished. Examples such as the ongoing use of federal troops to control peaceful protest such as Trump’s heinous, evil, and unconstitutional practices that have been seen at protests nationwide make vivid the terrifying ongoing deterioration of our rights.
Here’s how you can help
- Support organizations like the ACLU and other organizations that make defending our rights a priority.
- Continue to speak out and act out against the infringement on our rights by the government.
- Resist complicity in the oppression of people who have suffered more and had their human rights violated more severely through being actively anti-racist in responding to civil rights violations.
- And please, add to this list proactively, creatively, and #RESIST.
You can also follow Sarah Huxtable Mohr on Twitter at @SarahHMohr.