Fresh off of 20 years of grifting and waste in Afghanistan, America’s generals already have a target for a new crusade: the very troops under their command. On August 9, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced he would mandate COVID-19 injections the minute they were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which came Monday for the Pfizer mRNA injection. This is unconscionable.
Mandatory medical procedures violate the natural right to bodily autonomy. Informed consent, free of coercion, is the only rightful basis for subjecting another human being to biomedical treatments, therapies, or body modifications.
Control over one’s own body is the basis of all freedom. If the government can mandate vaccines in the name of health and welfare, then it can mandate other procedures as well. It can erode the right to autonomy and independence in the most intimate spheres of life.
This is not idle speculation. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 Supreme Court case allowing for states to conduct mandatory vaccination programs, is the precedent for Buck v. Bell, the 1927 case allowing for state-mandated sterilization programs. Oliver Wendell Holmes cited Jacobson as justification for his concluding point: “Three generations of imbeciles is enough.”
The Supreme Court has never overturned Buck v. Bell. Under current law, there is no legal protection for America’s men and women in uniform from the Department of Defense (DoD) mandating FDA-approved medical procedures.
To Join the Military Now Is to Become a Guinea Pig
Doe v. Rumsfeld, a 2003 case on the legitimacy of a military mandate for service members to take the anthrax vaccine, specified that the DoD cannot mandate a non-FDA-approved procedure for troops. Beforehand, in Doe v. Sullivan, a 1991 D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision (with an opinion written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg) determined the DoD could use “unapproved, investigational drugs on military personnel, in certain combat-related situations, without obtaining the service member’s informed consent.”
The president’s power to waive FDA approval requirements for mandatory medical procedures was not limited by either of these decisions. In other words, American troops do not have a fundamental right to bodily autonomy. The DoD or the president can mandate any biomedical procedure, with or without FDA approval.
Religious waivers to mandatory vaccination are not effective protection. The Navy’s immunization exemption order MILERSPAN 1730-020 specifies that, even “if granted, a waiver may be revoked by [a] commanding officer if [the sailor] is at imminent risk of disease or due to international health regulations.”
True bodily autonomy means just that: the ability to unilaterally control what is injected, inserted, or altered in one’s body. This right is not inherently religious. One should not have to hold certain beliefs in order to control one’s health.
Individual Rights Are Required for a Free Society
Pro-abortion activists have profoundly muddied the waters on this point. In a way, they are correct. There is a right to privacy and bodily autonomy. The question in the case of abortion is not whether women have a right to privacy but whether an unborn child is human and possesses a right to life. The right to bodily autonomy does not extend to a right to unlawfully take human life.
Some mandatory vaccination activists argue that refusing to receive a COVID shot is equivalent to murder, since an unvaccinated person might spread the illness. This is dangerous logic. Treating healthy people like biohazards is a recipe for stripping away all of their rights.
The global rise of the biomedical security state is evidence enough of this danger. In Australia, health officials, military officers, and police go door to door ensuring that citizens remain imprisoned in their homes in order to “stop the spread.” Some areas only allow one hour a day of outdoor exercise.
If you start treating your fellow citizens like disease vectors, you end up with the globe as a hospital gulag. The Australian government has gone as far as removing children from their parents to quarantine them. Medical martial law and the biomedical security state are incompatible with human freedom.
A Violation of Basic Human Rights
Nonconsensual experimental medicine is banned by the Nuremberg Code. FDA approval, in itself, is just a stamp on a piece of paper. It does not change the fundamental ethical problem with unilateral medical experimentation. NPR reports, for instance, that the Pfizer and Moderna placebo groups were eliminated. All the members ended up getting the shots. This makes controlled studies of the long-term effect of these jabs very difficult.
Respect for individual rights means allowing individuals to decide for themselves whether to undergo medical procedures without coercion. Those who argue that the military is different, somehow, and that troops do not deserve a right to their own bodies, should be deeply concerned with the possible ramifications of this logic.
There is an enormous power differential between the DoD and its $750 billion budget and an individual soldier. The DoD, under current law, could just as easily mandate that female troops take Depo-Provera, a temporarily sterilizing birth control shot.
Pregnancy poses a threat to unit readiness and combat effectiveness. Female troops who are pregnant can no longer fight at full strength. If concerns about unit capability can justify mandatory vaccination for an illness that has hospitalized less than 0.1 percent of the force, what logic prevents the DoD from restricting another medical condition, pregnancy, that regularly sidelines as much as 1 percent of their troops?
A History of Medical Abuse of Americans
The American national security state has a long history of undermining the right to informed consent. In the 1950s, the CIA sprayed all of San Francisco with a bacterial marking agent as part of a secret biochemical warfare test. Eleven San Franciscans were made ill. One of them died. In congressional testimony, Dr. Leonard Cole, a bioweapons expert at Rutgers University, revealed the U.S. Army conducted “hundreds” more such tests across the American heartland during the Cold War.
The government didn’t stop there. Journalist Stephen Kinzer explains in his book, “Poisoner in Chief,” that the CIA secretly dosed hundreds of unsuspecting American citizens with LSD as part of the top-secret MK Ultra program. Congressional inquiry also revealed that for three decades after World War II, the DoD and Atomic Energy Commission secretly exposed thousands of Americans to radiation as part of research into its effects.
The American government has long abused the right of American citizens to informed consent. The coronavirus hysteria driving vaccine mandates threatens to engrain such abuses even more deeply into our culture and politics.
Privacy for medical decisions ought to be the norm. American citizens should not have to reveal private health data to work, worship, and assemble. Turning the world into the medical equivalent of a TSA checkpoint won’t make any of us healthier, but it will make us substantially less free.
Soldiers Deserve the Freedoms They Defend
Ideally, American service members who do not want to submit to mandated medical procedures should be allowed to serve honorably and without any coercion or restrictions on their private liberty. COVID-19 poses very little risk to our armed forces. Out of 2 million active-duty troops, fewer than three dozen have died of COVID in the last 18 months. For perspective, 900 service members die per year from all causes.
American soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines are volunteers. They deserve to enjoy the freedoms they defend. Congress, not unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch, should determine what medical procedures ought to be required of those who volunteer to serve. If biomedical privacy is to be invaded, it should be done only by the people’s representatives and with extensive protections for those who do not comply.
American troops who refuse to be made subject to congressionally required medical procedures should be granted an honorable discharge, generous severance pay, and full benefits. No American citizen, especially one who has volunteered to defend this great nation, should be subject to punishment because he wants to protect his right to medical privacy and individual liberty.
The contract those who serve sign to defend this nation is not a deal with the Devil. Humanity and justice require that informed consent returns as the cornerstone of bodily liberty.
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