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A False Choice Between Individual Freedom and Public Health

I’ve been thinking about the issue of “Individual Freedom” and “Public Health” lately, in light of dozens of news articles, Facebook rants, face-palm anti-vaxxer deaths, vaccine mandates, and me being a nurse who believes in individual freedom but have a huge science background. Are there any law-based article discussing the intersection of individual freedom and public health?

Well, Google scrounged up this article called “Individual Freedom or Public Health? A False Choice in the Covid Era.” It makes a good point: every argument, decision, rant, etc. has been falsedly based on one (individual freedom) or the other (public health). Our communities, politicians, and talking heads have set up this dichotomy and most of us have fallen head first into it and taken sides. They have set up this dichotomy in that we lose whether we choose one or the other. Instead, they could have set it up so that it’s a win-win situation.

For the real sacrifice involved in social distancing and stay-at-home orders is not individual freedom. It is the reality that these measures can cause more hardship for some people than others. For some, that hardship may be lost income; for others it may be the inability to visit their parents in a long-term care facility; for still others, it may be domestic violence…

…we should be providing people with the economic and social supports they need to maintain physical distancing. The problem is that these supports are the very things that many politicians are loathe to provide…

It is not authoritarian to demand that people maintain physical distance to save lives. It is authoritarian to demand it without giving diverse people the means to do it.

-Jonathan Cohen, “Individual Freedom or Public Health? A False Choice in the Covid Era

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