‘Greater good’ versus civil liberties in the United States: Tuberculosis and Seattle’s Firland Sanatorium
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As far back as the late 1700s, peoples in the United States were developing ways to control infectious disease without infringing on Constitutional rights. Despite acknowledgement that an infected person has certain civil liberties, the history of public health law shows that, in many instances, infectious disease isolation and quarantine proved to be scientifically questionable at best. I examine an historical example of such questionable relationship between public health and civil liberties: the locked ward at Firland Sanatorium in Seattle, Washington. Mandatory quarantine at Firland began in the late 1940s and lasted until the facility closed in the early 1970s. Can examining this history enhance understanding of the relationship between "the greater good" and an individual's civil liberties?
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