New York health-care workers are protesting the emergency regulation adopted this summer by the State Health Department making seasonal and swine flu shots mandatory. As well they should. So should good conservatives, libertarians – and yes – the pro-choice left.
If those groups sound incongruous, it’s because they generally are. But New York State ’s bold and radical move to mandate flu shots is an area in which they should meet in agreement. And they shouldn’t leave this fight to New York ’s nurses and hospital administrators to fight alone.
The health-care workers are coming at the alarming new requirement, unanimously approved by the state Hospital Review and Planning Council, from a number of angles – some say the vaccine hasn’t been adequately tested. Others suggest vaccination in general carries unnecessary risks. And others say their labor agreement with the Public Employees Federation should make it illegal for the state to mandate the shots – they’ve even alleged that some employees have been fired or quit because they refused to get it.
Dr. Richard Daines, the state health commissioner appointed by Eliot Spitzer, said the shots are perfectly safe, and requiring health-care workers to get them is the best way to prevent the flu from spreading. “This isn’t the time to pump air into a completely deflated argument about vaccine safety.”
Daines’ assurances aside, health-care workers are right to resist this, and it’s not just the practical concerns – the safety of the vaccines, for one – that they should be worried about. There are broader implications here that should pique the interest of folks as disparate as Ron Paul, the Republican Congressman from Texas, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Mark Steyn, Gloria Steinem, John Stossel, and the National Organization for Women, all of whom would likely cringe to know I had just grouped them together in a single paragraph.
Allow me to elaborate. For one, mandating the flu shot delegitimizes the entire pro-choice movement, predicated on the insistence that women have sole domain and authority over their bodies. (Feminism has yet to adequately answer whether or not men have the same authority over theirs. But that’s another story.)