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I grew up in the USSR, in the first real democratic socialist society; in a society where everybody was equal, but some were "more equal than others." In the USSR, the words "inalienable rights," "liberty," and "informed voluntary consent" were not part of our vocabulary. The concept of these words was beyond our imagination. The Constitution granted our rights, and regulations took them away. Passports defined who we were and what we were allowed and not allowed to do; police and the judiciary interpreted our rights based on our ability to pay a bribe.

In the USA, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. HIPAA, ADA, and The Nuremberg Code apply to everyone. Keeping personal health information confidential, ensuring informed, voluntary consent of medical decisions are an integral part of the society in which "all men are created equal...with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

No pandemic may ever nullify these rights. Vaccines that were designed to prevent people from developing severe symptoms must be optional. Children must never be forced to wear masks. Immunization passports may never determine what people can and cannot do.

Anna Shchemelinin

Bozeman

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