The Jambar Editorial: Abortion laws and vaccines: “My body, my choice”

The Texas Heartbeat Act came into effect Sept. 1, 2021. The law specifically states in Section 171.203, “A physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman unless the physician has determined, in accordance with this section, whether the woman’s unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat.” 

The fetal heartbeat is defined in Subchapter H., Section 171.201 as “cardiac activity, or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac.” 

The bill sparked protests across the nation. Some people began comparing vaccine mandates to a pro-choice stance, theorizing that if women should be allowed bodily autonomy, why should vaccines be required?

Yet vaccines are a matter of public health — is abortion a public health issue in the same way?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a heartbeat can be detected and deemed viable at 6.5-7 weeks into pregnancy. Most women find out they are pregnant between weeks 4-7. By the time a woman realizes she is pregnant, she has a very small window, or no window at all, to go through with an abortion if that is her choice of action. 

The Texas Heartbeat Act may seem irrelevant to Ohioans, but Ohio’s laws on abortion read nearly the same. 

As of July 11, 2019, the Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules determined “no person shall knowingly and purposefully perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of the unborn human individual the pregnant woman is carrying and whose fetal heartbeat has been detected…”

The Ohio and Texas laws have determined that women are not entitled to bodily autonomy. At the same time, anti-vaccination and anti-mask protesters believe they have the right to choose what they do with their own bodies. Where is the line drawn? What is the difference between a woman having an abortion, which affects herself and the child of the father, and a person receiving a vaccine, which could potentially affect all those around them? 

Ultimately, it should come down to personal choices and how others are affected. 

Public bodies should determine what’s best for the public and enforce measures that help improve the general public. But if your choice does not have a public impact it should be just that, your choice.