“Abortion isn’t about abortion, and the pandemic is no longer about public health. For Republicans, it’s a case of government regulation for thee but not for me.” – Molly Jong-Fast

America is going through a very controversial time where everyone is very polarized in their opinions about issues that affect the lives of many. Thanks to the internet and social media, these personal opinions have been blown up into nation wide political and cultural polarization. Polarization and the fight for whose version of individual rights gets recognized over others is a global problem, but it seems especially apparent in the United States as, paradoxically, the arguments as they relate to COVID and abortion have collided.

The logic of many Republicans’ is somewhat paradoxical. Recently some Republicans have been fighting for the freedom to not wear a medical mask in public.  For instance, schools seem to be the battle ground where many are asserting what they perceive as their fundamental, individual rights. They debate that having to wear a mask restricts their breathing and that they are just a way that the government wants to control them. They explain that the demand to wear masks is against their human rights, that it is their body and so it should be their choice what they put on it. Now, is it not ironic that this same party is fighting against the right for women to have access to safe and legal abortions? They argue that it is ‘killing’ the ‘baby’ in question and should be considered as murder. However, their exact argument that could be used against them? If the logic behind their fight is “My Body My Choice” regarding masks, should not the same logic be applied to women’s fight for their right to make their own choices regarding their own body and health?

It seems that the people  who are campaigning their freedom believe in that freedom but only for what they want. However, one could argue that their choice to not wear a mask is making a much bigger impact on the collective society than, let’s say, a single abortion for a woman in need. People who don’t wear masks can go on to be super- spreaders, especially if they are a-symptomatic. This could lead to them passing on the virus that could potentially kill thousands. While the woman in need could be getting an abortion for a multiple of reasons, where having the baby would have more of an effect on her than getting rid of it before the fetus develops too far along. These reasons can be anything from the woman being impregnated from a case of rape, to other factors such age (too young or too old), accidental pregnancy, or even a difficult financial situation.  But no matter the reason for the abortion, they are still banned in many states, such as Texas, even in the case of rape.

“As a society we need to rethink or balance the rights of the individual vs the rights of the collective.”

So, back to the paradox, why do these Republicans’ get to pick and choose what is correct and what is not? Especially when the freedoms they are fighting for (no mask) can affect entire communities and the freedoms they are fighting against (safe abortions and medical care) does not personally affect them at all.

Let’s examine another paradox : The Republicans concern for the life ends when the baby is born. Since many women who want an abortion, but are not able to get it, did not want the baby because they are unable to care for the baby due to finances and have to lean on programs such as food banks or social services to keep the child happy and healthy while growing up (this last scenario disproportionately affects women of colour in the US). But most Republicans  do not support these social services and think they are a waste of tax payers’ money. However, it is these socials programs that help keep the kids that they fought to live, alive and healthy. If their argument is that abortions are killing babies, and they are pro-life, why don’t their policies take care of children once they are born?

As a society we need to rethink or balance the rights of the individual vs the rights of the collective. Everyone needs to ask themselves: are the rights and freedoms that I am asking for contradicting those that I am taking away from others?