EDITOR’S NOTE: For another viewpoint, see Counterpoint: ‘Vaccine Freedom’ Is Really ‘Freedom to Infect.”

Every person has the natural, essential, and inherent right to bodily integrity, free from any threat or compulsion that the person accepts any medical intervention, including immunization.” This is the primary declaration of HB 220, the Medical Freedom Act.

The bill protects the rights of the citizens of New Hampshire from medical coercion by the government during a time where those individual liberties are under siege. The dire lessons of history and related advancements in medical ethics are currently being shredded in the presence of a frightened populace and overzealous state.

The Medical Freedom Act (HB220) is a policy statement to guide future legislation. It contains carveouts to clarify that it does not supersede existing statutes, such as the ability of the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services to order quarantine during a communicable disease outbreak. Nor does it supersede the immunization requirements for schools or override the rights of employers to set policies for employees in accordance with federal law.

HB 220 simply declares that New Hampshire values self-determination and that government will not infringe upon it. It serves as a guide for future legislation, and prevents further expansion of state authority over individual medical decisions.

Opponents of HB 220 claim that mandating medical treatments such as immunizations is for the “greater good,” and thus ethically permissible. What they are advocating for is the ethical theory of utilitarianism, which has historically been used to justify the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and so-called “death panels” to reduce the burden of the infirm on single-payer healthcare systems. It is a theory that requires the rights of some to be violated in order to elevate the rights of others. This closely resembles the constructs of collectivism, which is antithetical to the principles of individualism that the United States was founded on.

Individualism declares that all people are created equal, and are afforded equal rights, which government is instituted to protect. If government fails to protect the rights of individuals, inevitably, a nation is governed by mob rule.

In medical ethics, the principle of autonomy is the right of all patients to make decisions about their health. Each person is an individual with unique moral agency, history, values, beliefs, culture, knowledge, and preferences, who should be treated with dignity and respect. Thus, during their training, medical practitioners are taught that they may educate patients, but must ultimately accept and protect the patient right of self-determination.

This human right is ensconced in medical professional codes of ethics such as those of the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association. Even those professionals most equipped to guide medical decision-making must respect the right of the patient to make decisions over their own body.

Since the principal role of government is to protect the rights of the individual, it follows that government must never be permitted to violate an individual’s right of bodily autonomy by mandating a medical treatment. HB 220 protects the people of New Hampshire from medical mandates.

With individual risk, there needs to be individual choice.

Rep. Tim Lang is a three-term GOP state rep from Sanbornton. Rep. Leah Cushman is a freshman Republican from Weare. They wrote this for NHJournal.