COVID-19’s Impact on State Public Health Laws Requires Careful Deliberation, Not a Rush to Legislate

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19

March 11, 2021
by Jill Krueger

As efforts are made to examine and evaluate the response to COVID-19 both generally and within public health specifically, states are taking a variety of approaches. Legislators in some states are seeking to clarify and bolster emergency powers and public health authority, while legislators in other states are seeking to curtail them sharply. The process unfolding in state legislatures has the potential to affect substantive developments in emergency powers and public health authority for years to come and should therefore be done only after careful consideration and discussion.

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President Biden’s Memorandum on Women’s Health: Improved Reproductive Care Access for Women is on the Horizon

Law & Policy InsightsMaternal and Child Health

March 10, 2021
by Jennifer Piatt

On January 28, President Biden issued the Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad to address the previous administration’s “global” and “domestic” rules preventing U.S.- funded entities from consulting on, referring for, or providing abortion services, which presented clear obstacles to healthcare access for low-income women in the U.S. and globally. The memorandum is an important step toward increasing access to reproductive care.

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Public Health Law News Roundup – March 2021

Law & Policy Insights

March 10, 2021

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include the Biden administration’s efforts to implement a national COVID-19 testing strategy; the city of Sante Fe’s innovative approach to addressing homelessness; a House bill that would significantly expand voting rights; a Colorado bill providing added protections for public health workers; vaccine mandates for health care workers; a new law in California that expands access to mental health and addiction treatments; and COVID-19 vaccination registration and information websites that violate disability laws.

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Individual Rights and the Public’s Health: Constitutional, Ethical, and Political Aspects of COVID-19 Measures and Their Enforcement

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Legislation and Legal Challenges

February 24, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the tension between individual rights and the public good to the forefront of the national discourse. Many pandemic response measures—such as stay-at-home orders, mandatory business closures or restrictions, and mask mandates—have evoked vocal opposition by individuals who feel these measures infringe on their freedom. Despite the authority of public health to implement these measures, noncompliance has been a significant issue.

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Protecting Public Health Authority to Protect the Health of Our Communities

Law & Policy InsightsLegal Protections for Public Health Officials

February 24, 2021
by Jill Krueger

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the tension between individual rights and the public good to the forefront of the national discourse. Many pandemic response measures—such as stay-at-home orders, mandatory business closures or restrictions, and mask mandates—have evoked vocal opposition by individuals who feel these measures infringe on their freedom. Despite the authority of public health to implement these measures, noncompliance has been a significant issue.

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Unlocking the Power of Data for Improving Community Health

Impact StoriesHealth Information and Data Sharing

February 17, 2021

Data are essential for public health surveillance, epidemiological investigation, research, program development, implementation and evaluation. A complex legal landscape, and lack of knowledge and training in law, result in actual or perceived barriers to data collection, use and sharing. As a result, opportunities are missed to use and share electronic data to improve the health of communities, promote wellness, address social determinants of health and increase health equity.

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Tobacco Control: A Decade of Challenges and Change

Law & Policy InsightsSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

February 10, 2021
by Kathleen Hoke

The first in a series of articles by Network attorneys on major public health law and policy developments over the past 10 years. In this article, Eastern Region Office Director Kathleen Hoke shares her insights into how laws designed to reduce the harm from tobacco use have changed, and the significant strides the public health community has made to reduce tobacco use initiation and increase tobacco cessation.

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Public Health Law News Roundup – February 2021

Law & Policy Insights

February 10, 2021

Some of the public health law and policy issues in the headlines in recent weeks include planned charges in the Flint water probe; Supreme Court ruling on abortion issue; obstacles in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout; calls for better public health data to combat the pandemic; public health issues facing the Biden administration; the impact of the EPA’s ‘secret science’ rule; and controversy over proposed vaccination distribution strategies.

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Youth Violence Prevention: Balancing Student Surveillance, Privacy and Equity

Law & Policy InsightsHealth in SchoolInjury Prevention and SafetyMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

February 9, 2021
by Kerri McGowan Lowrey

The desire to predict and prevent violence by young people is understandable and valid, particularly in the wake of school violence tragedies like Columbine, Parkland, and Sandy Hook. Just this week, a teenager made national news when he shot and killed his entire family. Communities do have a valid interest in identifying its members who are more likely to perpetrate violence, even when those perpetrators are children. However, that interest must be carefully balanced with the equally important competing interests of privacy and equity.

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Ensuring Access to Clean Needles Can Save Lives, but Legal Barriers Persist

Law & Policy InsightsHarm Reduction Legal ProjectHarm Reduction Legal Project ResourcesOpioid Misuse and Overdose PreventionSubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

February 5, 2021
by Amy Lieberman and Corey Davis

The United States continues to experience an unprecedented level of drug-related harm. While the failure to prevent this harm is most notable in the number of overdose deaths, which are now at their highest level on record, it is evident in other areas as well. Of particular importance from a policy perspective, bloodborne disease infections related to syringe sharing are also on the rise, with recent outbreaks in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Indiana, among other states. Cases of infective endocarditis, which is caused largely by unsafe injection, are increasing as well.

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