Ebola and Civil Liberties

The following statement can be attributed to Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union:

The government’s response to Ebola needs to be driven by sound medical science, not fear. It is absolutely crucial that we treat those exposed to this disease with compassion and dignity, and the minimum amount of coercion that public health officials recommend—especially when it comes to brave doctors and nurses who have put their own lives at risk to help contain the epidemic.

This is not only a matter of respecting civil liberties—it is a vital part of any effective response to the disease.

Public health experts say that measures like mandatory quarantine of people exhibiting no symptoms of Ebola will deter genuinely sick people who fear quarantine from seeking treatment, while also discouraging caregivers and first responders from helping sick patients who need their assistance.

The ACLU recognizes that when a threat to public health becomes serious enough, it may be necessary to infringe on people’s rights, but those infringements should be based on medical necessity, not politics.”

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