From SARS to Ebola: Legal and Ethical Considerations for Modern Quarantine

Indiana Health Law Review, vol.12, no.1, 2015 Forthcoming

University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2015-03

54 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2015

Date Written: January 9, 2015

Abstract

Quarantine remains an important part of the strategy for containing infectious diseases, especially when there is no vaccine or demonstrably effective treatment. Experience with SARS and, more recently, Ebola indicate that quarantine is fraught with ethical challenges. In the United States, legislation authorizing quarantine has been enacted in every state, and these laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court. The problems have been in identifying when quarantine is necessary and in implementation. The following ethical principles should guide public health officials in deciding whether and how to impose a quarantine: (1) necessity, effectiveness, and scientific rationale; (2) proportionality and least infringement; (3) humane supportive services; and (4) public justification.

Keywords: quarantine, SARS, ebola, public health, isolation, health law, bioethics, epidemics

JEL Classification: K31, K32

Suggested Citation

Rothstein, Mark A., From SARS to Ebola: Legal and Ethical Considerations for Modern Quarantine (January 9, 2015). Indiana Health Law Review, vol.12, no.1, 2015 Forthcoming, University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2015-03, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2499701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2499701

Mark A. Rothstein (Contact Author)

U of Louisville ( email )

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