October 27, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union said today that while the government must be vigilant in guarding against the potential spread of Ebola, officials should not overreact by issuing medically unnecessary quarantines.

Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, made this comment:

“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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