THE RIGHT THING OR A HUMAN RIGHT: RIGHTS, LIBERTIES AND HEALTHCARE REFORM

April Pierce, Lisa Backman

Abstract


The recent framing of healthcare as an issue of rights has invigorated public opinion, and given renewed relevance to the opposition between negative and positive liberties in the contemporarydebate. The right to healthcare resources can be interpreted as stemming from “positive” liberty and the right to opt-out or be “left alone” as “negative freedom” (Berlin). In this paper, we will describe how the current American debate on healthcare – with its use of the arguments for and critiques of“negative” liberalism - and has its foil in the trajectory of Swedish healthcare reform. Alluding to both public debates and some of the formative philosophical and political texts surrounding the issue, we will describe how both Swedish and American thinkers have used these two liberalisms to elevate healthcare above mere policy debate to the level of human rights, and how canonical texts are mobilized to justify claims about healthcare. Our goal is to invite further conversation on what is undoubtedly a critical and complex crossroads in the political landscape of both Sweden and the US.

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