Letter to the Editor: Freedom to Choose Is the Right of Every Patient

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On Sept. 9, 2021, President Joe Biden announced sweeping mandates for COVID-19 vaccinations, saying: “This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”

I beg to differ. It’s all about freedom.

There is data showing the vaccination reduces the chances of getting or dying from COVID-19. There is also evidence that the vaccine carries risk. A small percentage suffer side effects, even dying from it.

Moreover, all individuals are not at equal risk from COVID-19. The elderly and those with other serious health conditions are at greater risk.

It is arrogant, even dangerous, for any individual (e.g. the president), or even a panel of experts (e.g. the CDC), to think they know what's best for all others. As a physician, I know that even when I know my patient’s medical condition, I would be committing malpractice if I forced any treatment on them. My obligation is to provide the best information about the disease and all the treatment options, and let the patient decide for themself. Informed consent is a core tenant of the practice of medicine. Freedom to choose is the right of the patient.

The president and CDC are performing a form of medical malpractice by mandating treatments. They are violating the principle of informed consent. They are not presenting all the risks, benefits and treatment options. They are violating freedom of choice. In essence, they are practicing medicine without a license. If I vaccinated a patient without their informed consent, I would be sanctioned and lose my license.

We are told that the vaccine is for our own and the community's greater good. If we followed this reasoning we would abolish the use of alcohol, smoking and unhealthy foods and mandate exercise for everyone. There are many choices we make that are detrimental to our health. Clearly, the freedom to choose is more important, even if our choices are harmful.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.”

Our country is founded on the genius of freedom. It is through freedom that we are a great nation. If we give in to this violation of freedom now, what is the next one that will be imposed on us? If we give in to this violation, we are giving up on the core foundational principle of our nation. But that’s OK, because it is for our own good.

Or is it?

It’s all about freedom.

 

Gordon Johns

Chehalis

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