Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Case of the Actual (Not Manufactured) Health Issue

We have seemingly emerged from the mass hysteria relating to a virtually non-existent threat of a widespread Ebola epidemic in our country. 14th Amendment liberty rights of some were trampled in the frenzy. Now we are faced with another, wholly different set of circumstances and individual rights questions regarding a much more real outbreak.

This country's first state law requiring vaccination was enacted over 200 years ago in Massachusetts in response to the smallpox epidemic.

More than 100 years ago, in the case of Jacobsen v Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the US Supreme Court held that states could enact reasonable regulation regarding mandated vaccinations in order to protect public health and safety. Liberty for the individual was not absolute in all circumstances, but was qualified by overriding concern for the common good, for the welfare of others.

It was left to each state to fashion regulations within these constitutional parameters. Many states enacted legislation which provided exemptions from mandatory vaccination predicated on sincerely held religious beliefs or philosophical opposition.

The question that must be answered in this instance  is whether "the very concept of ordered liberty precludes allowing every person to make his or her own standards on matters of conduct in which the society as a whole has important interests" (Wisconsin v Yoder, a 1972 Supreme Court case deciding whether compulsory education beyond 8th grade on certain members of  the Amish community was constitutional).

As measles, a disease whose presence was virtually eradicated through the widespread use of vaccine reappears, the question posed is whether the "herd" can be jeopardized by those within its midst.

This matter, as opposed to the faux crisis of several months ago with it wild pronouncements and unwise decisions, is one of critical importance that can and should be the subject of vigorous debate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since this fear was based on false information, the writer has since been discredited, retraction published, and he has been stripped of his Phd.
Should one be required to have an inoculation? Not if he/she wants to sit next to my child/grandchild. My rights and health must be protected too.