ACLU: Vaccine Mandates ‘Actually Further Civil Liberties’

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Mandates for Chinese coronavirus vaccines “actually further civil liberties,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asserted Thursday, deeming vaccines a “justifiable intrusion on autonomy and bodily integrity.”

“Far from compromising them, vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. They protect the most vulnerable, people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated, and communities of color hit hard by the disease,” the ACLU pitched, linking to a New York Times op-ed penned by David Cole, national legal director of the ACLU, and Daniel Mach, director of the organization’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

“Vaccine requirements also safeguard those whose work involves regular exposure to the public, like teachers, doctors and nurses, bus drivers and grocery store employees,” the ACLU continued:

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT - SEPTEMBER 16: Teacher Elizabeth DeSantis, wearing a mask and face shield, helps a first grader during reading class at Stark Elementary School on September 16, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. Most students at Stamford Public Schools are taking part in a hybrid education model, where they attend in-school classes every other day and distance learn the rest. About 20 percent of students in the school district, however, are enrolled in the distance learning option due to coronavirus concerns. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT – SEPTEMBER 16: Teacher Elizabeth DeSantis, wearing a mask and face shield, helps a first grader during reading class at Stark Elementary School on September 16, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. Most students at Stamford Public Schools are taking part in a hybrid education model, where they attend in-school classes every other day and distance learn the rest. About 20 percent of students in the school district, however, are enrolled in the distance learning option due to coronavirus concerns (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images).

“And by inoculating people from the disease’s worst effects, the vaccines offer the promise of restoring to all of us our most basic liberties, eventually allowing us to return safely to life as we knew it, in schools and at houses of worship and political meetings,” it added:

In the op-ed, the ACLU officials explicitly said they see “no civil liberties problem with requiring Covid-19 vaccines in most circumstances.” In fact, they deemed vaccines a “justifiable intrusion on autonomy and bodily integrity,” as they believe the Chinese coronavirus is so risky that not getting a vaccine essentially inflicts harm on others. The overall survival rate for the virus is higher than 98 percent and likely higher than 99 percent.

“That may sound ominous, because we all have the fundamental right to bodily integrity and to make our own health care decisions. But these rights are not absolute. They do not include the right to inflict harm on others,” they wrote:

Even though the F.D.A. and independent medical experts have found Covid-19 vaccines to be extremely safe and highly effective, a sizable portion of the eligible population has chosen not to be vaccinated. In this context, Covid-19 vaccine mandates — much like mask mandates — are public health measures necessary to protect people from severe illness and death. They are therefore permissible in many settings where the unvaccinated pose a risk to others, including schools and universities, hospitals, restaurants and bars, workplaces and businesses open to the public.

“While limited exceptions are necessary, most people can be required to be vaccinated,” they asserted. “Any vaccination mandate should have exceptions for those for whom the vaccine is medically contraindicated, such as people who have allergies to it.”

However, the ACLU does not believe religious reasons are a strong enough reason to reject the vaccine, either.

“Like personal autonomy, religious freedom is an essential right, but not an unfettered license to inflict harm on others,” they wrote, ultimately concluding that most concerns are not enough to justify refusing the vaccine:

In the employment context, federal law requires religious accommodations in some circumstances, but not if they would cause an “undue hardship” to the employer. Refusing a Covid-19 vaccination poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others in the workplace, and likely amounts to an undue hardship unless the employer can devise some other accommodation for the employee, such as working from home.

Ironically, the ACLU said the “real threat” are states taking steps to ban government overreach.

“The real threat to civil liberties comes from states banning vaccine and mask mandates,” they wrote, citing Florida, Iowa, South Carolina, and Texas, specifically.

“But these bans directly endanger the public health and make more deaths from the disease inevitable. They trample the rights of the most vulnerable, who want to participate in society without putting their health at grave risk,” they concluded.

“We care deeply about civil liberties and civil rights for all — which is precisely why we support vaccine mandates,” they added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52.6 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Poll after poll has suggested that the majority of the unvaccinated are not planning to get the jab and will not be persuaded by mandates, requirements, FDA approvals, or any other means of coercion.

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