The Corner

Keep Your Laws Off My Body

I’m something of a product of my times. In the 1980s and 1990s I heard a lot of putatively honest liberals insist that the one zone of life that was absolutely sacrosanct was our own bodies. The state simply had no business getting involved in “our bodies.” Admittedly, this was mostly the rhetoric of abortion. I still remember Anna Quindlen on one of those Fred Friendly seminars waxing terribly righteous about the absolute sovereignty of a woman’s body. There was some spill-over into such topics as euthanasia and assisted suicide (remember “Whoes Life Is It Anyway?”), but the passion and heat was over abortion.

One irony, of course, is that abortion is actually the one area of public policy where there are at least two bodies — and two lives — in question and in conflict. Or at least that is the claim of many.

Flash forward to today and pretty much the entire edifice of liberalism insists that our bodies — what we put into them, how we maintain them — are fair game not just for Congress but for bureaucrats. I know there are a lot of arguments I’m skipping over and exceptions one might make to all this. But at the end of the day, I still have a hard time reconciling yesterday’s passion of the “Keep your laws off my body” crowd with today’s passion for enmeshing everybody (or every body) in a lifetime of legal paperwork and government red tape via such things as a health-insurance mandate and end-of-life counseling. That is unless, it was all smoke and mirrors designed to make the pro-abortion stance sound more highfalutin.

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