Freedom of Conscience and COVID-19 Vaccination
Reconciling Contradictory Forces
Keywords:freedom of conscience, COVID-19, vaccination, compulsory vaccination, contradictory forces
Compulsory COVID vaccination is a timely question to ask as more and more countries introduce it. There is a growing body of case law and literature on child vaccination against a number of well-known diseases, yet the current issue involving the compulsory vaccination of adults against COVID-19 presents a new case. I hypothesise as follows: (a) compulsory vaccination is constitutional, under certain conditions; (b) alternative behaviour must be tolerated if it produces the same end. I verify these hypotheses by analysing the role of conscience in vaccinations in general and in COVID-19 vaccination in particular. I consider the Hungarian context, but the conclusions might apply to other countries as well. The key issue is the extent to which the government should respect individual conscience during a pandemic. I first discuss what conscience is in legal terms. Second, I discuss the legal nature and background of COVID-19 vaccination. Third, I describe the decision of the Hungarian Constitutional Court on mandatory vaccination and compare the current situation with the previous one. Fourth, I analyse the outcome of the ‘comparative test of burdens’. Finally, I summarise my conclusions.