Choice vs Coercion

The difference between 'choice' and 'coercion' in relation to vaccine mandates.

Choosing to Get Vaccinated?

Supporters of vaccine mandates claim no one is forced to get vaccinated. Mandates present choices like the choice between getting fired or getting vaccinated. Since someone can choose to get fired, that person is not being forced to get vaccinated.

What is wrong with this argument?

One problem with this argument is that presenting a “choice” can sometimes be the same thing as coercing a certain outcome.

Imagine a robber asking you to choose between your money or your life. You give the robber your money because you want to live. Are you being forced to give the robber your money? Yes and no. It is possible for you to choose not to turn over your money. But the robber has forced you into the position where you must make a choice that leaves you with poor consequences whatever you choose. And because the consequence of not turning over your money is so terrible, the robber coerces you to do so. Mandates amount to coerced choice.

Free Choice

Free choice is the antithesis of coercion. It reflects a person’s authentic beliefs and desires, as opposed to the beliefs and desires of others.

The ethical concept of free choice in medical treatment is widely accepted both legally and medically. The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly affirmed a person’s right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment. Non-consensual (including coerced) medical treatment can even be an assault or battery. Likewise, The Canadian Medical Protective Association states that there must never be “any suggestion of duress or coercion” in a person’s decision to accept medical treatment. Doctors must ensure “that the will of other persons has not been imposed on a patient”.


Getting fired may not be as bad as losing your life but it is no small thing, especially for someone with dependents. Presenting the choice of getting fired or getting vaccinated is presenting a special kind of choice in which getting vaccinated is a coerced outcome. It is not a truly free choice like some would have you believe.