Opinion

ESPN Forced Me Out Over Their Vaccine Mandate. Here’s Why I Stood My Ground

DailyWire.com

I worked as a reporter with ESPN for over 10 years. It wasn’t until I refused to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in compliance with the company’s mandate that my employment came into question. Disney released a statement earlier in the year to all employees saying they would continue to support personal choice regarding the vaccine. They later reversed that decision, offering an ultimatum in its place. My request for accommodation was denied, first for a medical exemption, and later for a religious exemption. Neither mattered, nor did it matter that I had Covid-19 and therefore had natural immunity.  I was willing to test regularly and wear a mask, posing no significant threat to others. All that mattered was that I comply and receive the injection.  The federal government and billion-dollar mega-corporations were more privy to what was best for me and my family than me. In the hardest decision of my life, I subsequently left. 

For this, I was labeled many things, “anti-science,” “irresponsible” and most often “anti-vaccine.” 

Despite the clarity I have offered on this matter, I have still been labeled as such. The name-calling and labelling — anti-vax vs. pro-vax — are diversions from what I think is most important here: the freedom for each of us to be able to make decisions for ourselves and our families, based on our own risk assessments. I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m anti-mandates that disregard those freedoms and stand in opposition to personal belief and agency. 

The reasons behind our medical choices are not the concern of employers or the government. The lack of respect we’ve seen for personal freedom in these decisions is staggering. And the fact that we have been coerced into putting our medical and life decisions on display for employers’ inspection and judgement to maintain employment is wrong. Politics has no place here.

Our choice, in consultation with our doctor, was made in light of my fertility and desire to grow our family. Listening to more stories from women in a similar place, I know there are those who chose to receive the vaccine with great success, experiencing healthy and uneventful pregnancies and deliveries. There have also been women who chose to receive it who experienced subsequent fertility and pregnancy issues and even miscarriages. Does that establish the vaccine is the cause?  No.  I understand that.  But they are forced to wonder…I don’t want to live with that uncertainty.  We have to stop acting like these stories don’t matter.  Like this vaccine is without risk.  Where there is risk there must be choice.  To me, this only furthers the importance of respecting the medical freedom of individuals.

Even beyond the vaccine, consider regular doctor visits which oftentimes require referrals to specialists, second opinions, alternative solutions—the list goes on. With different health needs, medical history, and available resources, there is rarely a single solution that will always be the best way forward for every individual. The beauty of this country we live in is that choice exists, and you, the individual, with your family and your support group, are the ones best-suited to make that choice. So, to both the women who had success with the vaccine and to those that did not, I believe you, and I support your individual decisions.

Many retort that it is a matter of morality to receive the injection for the good of society, including your employer and fellow employees. To those individuals, I hope your faith will be restored in the ability of others to decide what’s best for their own family and community. I hope you’ll also consider whether it furthers the good of society for individuals to abandon their closely held beliefs in the face of tyrannical threats from employers and the government. If history has taught us anything, it is a mark of good character that no matter the consequence, one stands up for one’s values and beliefs. These principles shape us not only into good citizens, but ironically, into good employees, and are more important than our paychecks. I ask again—could a rejection of that character be good for society?

Many have decided it is not, which is why they stand for the freedom to reject vaccine mandates. I stand, small though my part has been, in humbling solidarity with the brave men and women who are first responders, police officers, firefighters, government workers and military as they are especially targeted with these overreaches and are forced to weigh their livelihoods against their beliefs and often their own doctors’ medical advice.  A part of me never wanted to take on this fight.  I thought about laying low, staying quiet, waiting for this all to pass.  But I was inundated with messages from people around the country who were faced with the same dilemma.  These people don’t have media outlets wanting to tell their side.  I feel a moral obligation to stand with them and to use my platform in any way possible to open minds and bring awareness to the devastating and far-reaching impact of these mandates.     

To those who support and condone the vaccine mandates, I ask you, “At what cost?”  What are you willing to lose as a citizen to get these shots in arms?  As I’ve said before, power given is seldom returned, and there will be a time when corporations or government, or both, will mandate violations of your beliefs. We’re here to fight for you as well. 

I’m grateful for the door opened by Daily Wire in allowing me to continue to do what I love.  To share stories through sports. It becomes increasingly important, as the government and corporations like Disney, for their own reasons or the reasons of shareholders or political pressures, cease to uphold the values which are integral to our nation. It gives me hope, not in the continued divide between those that choose to vaccinate and those that do not, but that there is a growing number who continue to believe and uphold the individual’s freedom to choose. Take heart and continue to stand up. Your moral, ethical, and medical objections matter. I’m with you and it’s worth it. 

Allison Williams is a Daily Wire contributor. Previously, she was with ESPN since 2011, where she covered a wide variety of major sporting events, including multiple NCAA Final Fours, the 2021 CFB National Championship, the Rose Bowl, and the NBA Draft.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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