Stop equivalating abortion restrictions to mask mandates

My body, my choice. The most meaningful phrase of the abortion rights movement has recently been reclaimed as a tool to spread misinformation regarding mask mandates, assimilating two of the most highly controversial subjects within politics into a single issue of bodily autonomy. 

Due to the pandemic, numerous debates within past years have emerged surrounding the degree to which the government should and can control our bodies, which can potentially be applied to both abortion and COVID-19 legislation. However, as many make efforts to point out the hypocrisy of both political parties through their contrasting attitudes towards these subjects, a larger contradiction is simultaneously highlighted: women’s decisions over their bodies have evolved into an issue of public health, similar to mask and vaccine enforcements, rather than one of individual rights.

Photo by Maria Oswalt

The abortion-rights movement has never remotely related to public health, as it entails the decision of an individual towards their pregnancy and generally does not drastically impact the lives of others involved. In fact, one of the only ways in which abortions could become an issue of public health is when it brings harm upon the person following through with the abortion. Due to its legality, the safety of abortion practices has significantly improved–in fact, abortion is now believed to be a less risky procedure than carrying a pregnancy to term. The restriction of access to abortion does not substantially decrease the rate of abortions but rather forces those with unwanted pregnancies to participate in riskier actions in order to terminate it, therefore pertaining detrimental consequences on public health.

Mask mandates, contrastingly, can be considered an issue of public health. By deliberately choosing not to wear a mask, the spread of COVID-19 is practically inevitable, especially with the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant. Although some argue that wearing a risk restricts their personal freedoms, ultimately, its benefits for public health outweigh the factor of inconvenience. Masks have consistently been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19; the decision of mask-wearing does not solely affect an individual but can result in consequences for everyone around them. 

Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash

Therefore, not wearing masks is an acceptance of social inequality. Conservatives and their ignorant perspectives towards mask mandate disproportionately impact those they come in contact with, which can include those who are at an increased risk of contracting the virus or those who may not have financial access to adequate treatment facilities.

By equivalating abortion restrictions to mask mandates, these controversial topics are oftentimes oversimplified and consequentially lack the nuance necessary to develop a grounded argument. Whether utilized by Republicans or Democrats, this comparison can be easily argued as hypocritical to the general beliefs of each of these parties.

The issue of abortion freedom is not one of public health, and we need to stop viewing it as one. A woman’s decision to obtain an abortion is not inherently harmful to other individuals and is certainly not comparable to the consequences of refusing to wear a mask in the midst of a pandemic that has killed millions worldwide.