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Bioterrorism and the Use of Fear in Public Health

Urban Lawyer, Vol. 34, p. 686, 2002

42 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2011  

Edward P. Richards

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center

Terry O'Brien

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Katharine C. Rathbun

Dr-kate.com

Date Written: August 1, 2002

Abstract

Since September 11, the public health system has been plagued by concerns that it is inadequate to manage a bioterrorism outbreak. The federal government has promised billions of dollars to fight bioterrorism; and most states have announced plans to develop their own homeland defense systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supports the promulgation of a Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (Act), which essentially presumes that state governments are powerless to manage public health emergencies.

This article examines the challenges that bioterrorism poses for today’s cities. The article first describes how bioterrorism fits into general public health issues. It then evaluates the state and federal powers available to manage bioterrorism incidents. Finally, the article proposes a practical alternative to ill-conceived strategies such as the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act. The authors conclude that while changes do need to be made in many state public health laws, the need for change is relatively minor. The public health system itself needs reorganization and adequate support, which will improve routine public health and better prepare the United States to manage a bioterrorism incident. More importantly, failings in the public health system result in the unnecessary loss of thousands of lives every year. These lives could be saved irrespective of whether the United States ever faces a major bioterrorism attack.

Keywords: public health, emergency powers, bioterrorism, police power, Model State Emergency Powers Act, MSEPA

JEL Classification: I18, H56

Suggested Citation

Richards, Edward P. and O'Brien, Terry and Rathbun, Katharine C., Bioterrorism and the Use of Fear in Public Health (August 1, 2002). Urban Lawyer, Vol. 34, p. 686, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1903194

Edward P. Richards (Contact Author)

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center ( email )

440 Law Center Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

HOME PAGE: http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/

Terry O'Brien

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Katharine C. Rathbun

Dr-kate.com ( email )

United States

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