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Jacobson v. Massachusetts is a product of the early 20th century, and the public health law principles supporting it are vestiges of an even earlier time. This, coupled with a century of subsequent civil liberties jurisprudence and societal advancement, has led some commentators to question whether Jacobson should continue to retain its iconic role in terms of the scope of government police powers. At the same time, other public health law experts call for Jacobson’s continued vitality, arguing that it is settled doctrine and a still-appropriate answer to the individual rights/public good question. What do you think?

Q2Describe how the law can create or perpetuate health-harming social conditions. Explain how the law can be used to ameliorate health harming social conditions.

Q3Depending on one’s personal experience in obtaining health care, one’s view of the role of physicians in society, of law as a tool for social change, the scope of medical ethics, or the United States’ place in the broader global community, the no-duty principle might seem appropriate,, irresponsible, or downright wrong.

Imagine you are traveling in a country where socialized medicine is the legal norm, and your discussion with a citizen of that country turns to the topic of your countries’ respective health systems. When asked, how will you account for the fact that health care is far from being a fundamental right rooted in American law?

Q4Large scale health legislation is often difficult to enact in the United States. How do the features of the U.S. legal system further and/or hinder that process?

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