Your health privacy: What government giveth, it can taketh away
Suddenly, your health is everybody’s business.
If you have the misfortune of living in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, where you can no longer enter a restaurant, museum, or concert hall without proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, you may find yourself having intimate discussions about your health with strangers.
A restaurant owner in New York City recently expressed to me his discomfort stemming from the city’s new measures. Unvaccinated customers have been inundating him with personal health details about reasons for noncompliance -- such as undergoing treatment for cancer or concern of the vaccine’s potential interactions with other health conditions -- just to be let through the restaurant door.
Unfortunately, the owner’s empathy for his customers’ circumstances landed him in trouble with New York City’s health department, which threatened to revoke his liquor license should he continue to treat his customers with basic human decency.
Many of his customers, incidentally, happen to be African American, a group with historic reasons for not trusting government health orders (for an excellent discussion on the horrific things the government has done in the name of science, listen to the Doctor, Doctor podcast with Carter Snead, as a guest). Ironically, Mayor Bill de Blasio put an end to “stop and frisk” because it might unfairly target minorities. Don’t vaccine mandates pose a similar threat?
Let’s go back in time to 1981, the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, as well as a time of heightened sexual promiscuity. Imagine asking members of the gay community to show proof of a negative test prior to being allowed into an establishment. Such a law would not have been all that unreasonable because contracting AIDS was a near-certain death sentence in the absence of a vaccine or other treatment options.
Rather than promote such a potentially authoritarian measure, individual rights to privacy over their sex lives were considered paramount. Today, our legal system continues to uphold the privacy of individuals with HIV, nearly universally prohibiting disclosure of their personal information. In fact, privacy laws have become so overreaching they have caused confusion and become even a nuisance to families trying to get health information on loved ones in trouble.
All bets have been off for COVID-19, a disease significantly less deadly than AIDS at its peak. President Biden’s hell-bent effort to get the entire nation vaccinated could result in public lists of Americans who are refusing the shots.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden stated on September 9.
Biden is turning up the heat as he tries to order employers to fire unvaccinated workers or face fines that could be as high as $700,000. “They’re killing people,” said Biden of the unvaccinated. This is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky. The administration’s cronies in the mainstream media and in local health departments then weaponize this misinformation to turn the public against the unvaccinated.
Not only do such statements inhibit the ability of the unvaccinated to go about their daily lives, Biden and Walensky neglect to account for why the vaccine is clearly failing to protect the vaccinated from these individuals. It is nearly impossible for people who do not want to receive the vaccine to keep their decision private.
This shows how compromised the notion of individual liberty has become in 40 years. Health care privacy is only a concern if one aligns with the government’s ideology.
It would behoove us to remember the words of Lawrence W. Reed. “Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you’re got.”
Privacy laws are a perfect example. Americans should have complete ownership of their personal health data without the government having to dictate the intricacies of how that should work and then the authority to take it all back. Besides, few people understand how privacy laws under HIPAA actually work. The regulations don’t necessarily assure privacy.
Our government was created to provide national security from foreign threats and to protect the civil liberties of individual American citizens. Unfortunately, this purpose has been corrupted, and the government’s primary goal now seems to be utilizing fear and propaganda to turn American society against itself.
AnneMarie Schieber (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News and research fellow at The Heartland Institute.
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