If there was ever an event from which a celebrity might want to distance herself, last weekend’s Robert F. Kennedy Jr. anti-vaccine fest is definitely up there. Not only was the entire DC rally premised around using conspiracy theories to undermine the best weapon against the covid-19 pandemic, but during his speech, Kennedy suggested that he and his fellow vaccine refusers are now more persecuted than Holocaust victims.
If I’d just happened to be visiting the Lincoln Memorial that day, I’d be praying not to show up in the background of any pictures. Not Ant-Man and the Wasp star Evangeline Lilly, though. On Thursday—which means she had four days to reconsider doing this—she posted to Instagram that she was in attendance at the rally Sunday.
“I was in DC this weekend to support bodily sovereignty,” she wrote in the caption. “I was pro choice before COVID and I am still pro choice today.”
This isn’t Lilly’s first time in the “angry about anti-pandemic measures” spotlight. Way back at the even-scarier beginning of the pandemic, Lilly posted to Instagram that she’d taken her kids to gymnastics camp. “They all washed their hands before going in,” she wrote. “They are playing and laughing #businessasusual.” She followed up in the comments, telling commenters that though she was herself immunocompromised and living with her father, who she said had stage 4 leukemia, “Some people value their lives over freedom, some people value freedom over their lives. We all make our choices.”
Her comments sparked a backlash, and she later apologized, saying that the gymnastics class was in keeping with her community’s Covid directives at the time. “PLEASE KNOW THAT I AM DOING MY PART TO FLATTEN THE CURVE, PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND STAYING HOME WITH MY FAMILY,” she wrote at the time.
Lilly seems to be big on the word “choice.” She’s not the first anti-vaxxer to stumble upon the idea of appropriating reproductive rights slogans to undermine lifesaving anti-pandemic fighting measures. The tactic’s a favorite right-wing gotcha move, something along the lines of the proud declarations that White/Blue/MAGA Lives Matter. In fact, people who do support abortion rights don’t use the term “pro-choice” as much these days. It’s long been criticized for its suggestion that pregnant people are able to just casually shop from some sort of affordable and accessible options menu, choosing abortion or adoption or parenting at-will. As reproductive justice scholar Dorothy Roberts put it, “Choice implies that the market is fair, ignoring the social inequalities that continue to shape many people’s lives. And then, when they want to terminate a pregnancy and they can’t get access to an abortion provider, they can be blamed for their bad choices…”
Lilly is a Marvel star. Lilly is a Lost alum. Even if she never got another acting job, she could be smiling for photos at conventions and cashing checks until the end of time. So, why take a wrong-headed stand when you could just sit at home, be quiet, and wait for your next chance to throw some punches in front of a green screen for a massive check? And yes, Letitia Wright, that goes for you, too.