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Zika is a mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted disease that is a dangerous threat to pregnant women, causing catastrophic birth defects in a large percentage of fetuses when their mothers become infected while pregnant.  It raises numerous issues related to abortion, birth control, poverty, and women’s control over their procreative choices. While the United States received ample warning from January 2016 onward that it was at risk of local transmission of this virus and public health officials at all levels generally behaved properly, the state and federal legislative responses in the summer of 2016 were entirely inadequate. For example, no state at a high level of risk undertook to provide long lasting and reliable birth control to all women who wanted it. Furthermore, Congress took a seven-week recess at the height of mosquito season without providing any funding for a Zika response.    In light of these failures, it appears that the federalist system that allocates both public health police powers and duties to act contains a flaw. The system creates a vacuum within which there are no enforcement mechanisms that can compel legislators to act appropriately.  Given recent changes in the United States political make up at a federal level, it appears that the problems are only going to get worse.  This talk will analyze the response from January through August 2016 from a legal, health policy, and ethical framework and frame this analysis within current challenges. 

An article by Jacqueline Fox concerning this case study has recently been published in the Connecticut Law Review.

Bookings: If you would like to attend, please email

Forthcoming events

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Regulation of AI in healthcare: what should we expect?

Wednesday, 28 August 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Ethox/WEH Seminar - Genomic secondary findings in inherited heart conditions: a recall by genotype study

Wednesday, 04 September 2019, 11am to 12.30pm @ Seminar room 0, BDI, Old Road Campus, OX3 7LF

Oxford Open Doors

Saturday, 14 September 2019, 12.30pm to 4pm

The Nuffield Department of Population Health will be open to the public as part of this year's Open Doors event. Find out how medical researchers use big data to answer important questions about human health around the world.

Pharmaceutical policies in the long run: reflections on 60th anniversary of the Hinchliffe Report

Monday, 11 November 2019, 9.30am to 5pm @ Merton College, Merton Street Oxford, OX1 4JD

Designing and Running Streamlined Randomized Trials

Monday, 13 January 2020 to Tuesday, 14 January 2020, 9.30am - 5pm