I remember the day in 2007, when I was standing in front of a Maryland country courthouse videotaping interviews with mothers and fathers lined up with children, who had been thrown out of school for failing to show proof they had gotten chickenpox and hepatitis B shots. 12 State public health officials were threatening the parents with fines and jail time and suddenly, as we were talking, men in uniforms with guns and dogs emerged from the courthouse and headed toward us. In the pit of my stomach was the sickening feeling that people in countries throughout history have felt when the exercise of freedom of thought, speech and conscience is met with a demonstration of police power wielded by agents of the State.
Today, the American people are challenged, as they have never been before, to confront the expansion of government authority over our bodies and the bodies of our children, specifically the exercise of police power to take us into custody and isolate us without our consent whenever public health officials believe we are sick or could become sick. At stake is the preservation of human rights and cultural values that have been part of America since the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights defined civil liberties two centuries ago.