Public health authority legislative update.

This month, we look at how concepts of freedom and autonomy are used in conversations about governmental efforts to protect and improve people’s health and well-being in our communities. We highlight bills that reflect a shift toward concepts of freedom that affirm the individual liberties of all people by recognizing our interdependence with others and the systems in which we interact.

As public health practitioners and advocates, we believe that the preconditions for individual health and well-being are communal and systemic. By improving the underlying conditions in which we all live, learn, work, and play, public policies and services ultimately enhance each person’s ability to pursue their own version of happiness and well-being. Yet in conversations about public health efforts by government bodies, the language of “liberty” and “rights” is sometimes used in ways that obscure our interdependence and favor the choices of certain individuals, often at the expense of people who are more marginalized in our society.