In recent years a series of compelling legal flashpoints have emerged at the intersection of public health and religious freedom. This installment of Law and the Public’s Health provides a comprehensive overview of the issues by Professor James G. Hodge, Jr.
The history of public health law in the United States has always been about compromise. As noted recently by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the authority to protect and promote communal health is balanced with constitutional or other legal rights of individuals to act or behave as they wish provided they do not harm others. In many cases, the scales are appropriately weighted to respect individual freedoms while advancing the public’s health (e.g., public health surveillance activities). In other instances, furtherance of individual rights (e.g., to bear arms) can negatively impact health outcomes across populations.
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*Hodge J. Respecting Religious Freedoms and Protecting the Public’s Health. Public Health Rep 2015 Sep-Oct [Epub ahead of print].
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