Grace Emily Stark of The Federalist has written a column explaining why she hasn’t been vaccinated. It comes down to a basic risk assessment. She’s 30 weeks pregnant, has had a miscarriage in the past, considers herself at relatively low risk of serious COVID-19 complications if she gets infected, and isn’t comfortable that enough testing has been done on pregnant women to know the vaccine is completely safe.
She’s at pains to assure us that she’s in a good position to make an informed decision: “I have degrees in health policy and bioethics. I have worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. My husband is a physician in the U.S. Navy.”
I totally respect her decision. She’s being extra cautious with her baby’s health even though it puts her at increased personal risk which could wind up backfiring for both of them. Her decision also puts everyone else at increased risk, but I think she’s well within her rights to make this call and her reasoning is defensible. She acknowledges that the latest data on vaccine safety for pregnant women look promising, and also that she might change her mind in the next few weeks if something changes.
But there are two additional things she mentions as reasons she’s not getting vaccinated that are very problematic. The first is that she’s upset that “the health authorities who manage [the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)] and run all of our major health institutions are not actually urging pregnant ‘women’ to get vaccinated, but pregnant ‘people.'”
There’s a lot wrong with that sentence. First, she’s clearly referring to something singular and assigning collective authorship to basically the entire national health employee base. There’s an actual person who wrote “pregnant people” instead of “pregnant women” and it might be a poor choice of words since men obviously cannot get pregnant, but it doesn’t reflect some widespread disdain for women among federal health experts and it’s not a reason to forego their advice on vaccination.
Yet, Stark uses this as the starting point for a rant for an anti-choice rant that is just as much of a non-sequitur.
These authorities who are seemingly incapable of accepting the very basics of human anatomy and biology are the same ones in utter hysterics over Texas’s heartbeat law. They assure me they will continue to fight for my “right” to dispose of the child within my womb, no matter the reason, and no matter the cost. They insist she is only a human person worthy of protection from bodily harm if and when I decide that she is — which, of course, is subject to change based upon my individual situation and preferences until she has fully exited my womb (and as some would have it, not even then).
So, if you want to know why I, at nearly 30 weeks pregnant and married to a fully vaccinated doctor, am not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, suffice it to say that I have determined there is a possibility that our major health institutions might not have my unborn daughter’s best interests at heart. They, after all, would neither admit that she is a human nor a girl at this point.
It may be true in a strictly statistical sense that “health authorities” are more pro-choice than not, but it’s ridiculous to assert that every health expert is incapable of accepting that men can’t get pregnant. They are not of one mind on abortion rights or the Texas bounty hunter abortion bill. And there’s no reason to assume that they, individually or collectively, don’t care about the health of her baby.
More importantly, if this really is a reason why she’s not getting vaccinated, it totally undermines her initial point that she’s well-credentialed to make an informed medical decision on this matter. Who cares if her husband is a physician and she has degrees in health policy and bioethics and used to work for the FDA if she isn’t using that base of knowledge as the primary driver of her decision?
She’s telling us that she can follow the science because she’s been trained in it and respects scientific methods, but then she’s arguing that she doesn’t trust that the scientists are going act with her baby’s health in mind. She well knows that even the most pro-choice doctor in the world would not want to advise anything that would put a healthy and wanted pregnancy at risk.
In the end, the column could have focused on providing some reassurance for other women who’ve made a similar and difficult choice to forego vaccination but instead clanked off the rails into a pro-bounty hunter anti-science diatribe based on little more than paranoia and grievance.
I guess that’s why The Federalist was interested in publishing it.