Advertisement

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 503–516 | Cite as

Privacy, autonomy, and public policy: French and North American perspectives

  • Jennifer Merchant
Article

Abstract

This article raises the question of whether in both the United States and in France, an individual’s autonomy and private decision-making right(s) in matters of health care and access to reproductive technologies can be conciliated with the general interest, and more specifically, the role of the State. Can a full-fledged right to privacy, the ability to exercise one’s autonomy, exist alongside the general interest, and depend neither on financial resources like in the United States nor on centralised government decisions or the medical hierarchy like in France? The contrast between these two modern democracies justify the importance of comparing them. I will demonstrate that overlaps do exist: the free exercise of religion and opinion, freedom of expression, the inherent value of each individual. What differs, however, are the institutions and how they provide, protect, promote, or frame access to and expressions of these democratic principles. The impact of the global economy, the exposure of people around the world to each other via the internet, and the mirror effects of social media, blogs, and other such forums, have created new perspectives that countries project onto one another. For example, does France now seem to tout ‘autonomy’ as a new and important value because it appears to be an ‘American success story’? Does the United States now seem to value human rights and a social-democratic approach because of the ‘French model’? There seems to be some truth behind these assertions, but as this article will demonstrate, the portrayals of what the ‘right to privacy’ is in the United States and what ‘socialised medicine’ is in France are not necessarily fully accurate.

Keywords

Privacy Autonomy Solidarity France United States Comparative public policy 

References

  1. 1.
    Loi n° 2002-303 du 4 mars 2002 relative aux droits des malades et à la qualité du système de santé. 2002. Journal Officiel 54: 4118. https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000227015&categorieLien=id. Accessed July 28, 2016.
  2. 2.
    Ball, N.T. 2000. The reemergence of Enlightenment ideas in the 1994 French bioethics debates. Duke Law Journal 50(2): 545–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Loi n° 2004-800 du 6 août 2004 relative à la bioéthique. 2004. Journal Officiel 182. https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000441469. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  4. 4.
    Stambolis, M. Forthcoming. Queer families online: The internet as a resource for accessing and facilitating surrogacy and ART in France and the United States. In Access to Assisted Reproductive Technologies: The case of France and Belgium, borders and beyond, ed. J. Merchant. London: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Testart, J. 1986. L’oeuf transparent. Paris: Flammarion/Champs.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Merchant, J. 1996. ‘Torts for wrongful birth/life and prenatal abuse’: Natalité et procréation, le rôle fundamental du judiciaire américain. Revue Française d’Études Américaines 61(1): 50–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cour de Cassation. 2000. Assemblée plénière, du 17 novembre 2000, 99-13.701, Publié au Bulletin. https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichJuriJudi.do?idTexte=JURITEXT000007041543. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  8. 8.
    Code de l’Action Sociale et des Familles. 2005. Article L114-5. Journal Officiel de la République Française. https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichCodeArticle.do?idArticle=LEGIARTI000006796464&cidTexte=LEGITEXT000006074069&dateTexte=vig. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  9. 9.
    Toinet, M.-F. (ed.). 1990. De l’etat en Amérique. Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act of 2008, Pub.L. 110–233, 122 Stat. 881 (May 21, 2008). https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/gina.cfm . Accessed July 24, 2016.
  11. 11.
    Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  12. 12.
    Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928). https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/277/438. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  13. 13.
    Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535 (1942). https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/316/535. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  14. 14.
    Buck v. Bell, 247 U.S. 200 (1927). https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/274/200. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  15. 15.
    Relf v. Weinberger, 372 F. Sup., D.C. Circuit (1977).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965). https://www.oyez.org/cases/1964/496. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  17. 17.
    Redlich, N. 1962. Are there ‘certain rights’ retained by the people? N.Y.U. Law Review 37: 787–812.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 492 U.S. 490 (1989). https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/492/490. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  19. 19.
    Reagan, Ronald. 1981. Inaugural address. Speech delivered January 20, 1981. The Heritage Foundation. http://www.heritage.org/initiatives/first-principles/primary-sources/reagans-first-inaugural-government-is-not-the-solution-to-our-problem-government-is-the-problem. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  20. 20.
    Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297 (1980). https://www.oyez.org/cases/1979/79-1268. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  21. 21.
    Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/91-744. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  22. 22.
    Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. (2014). https://www.oyez.org/cases/2013/13-354. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  23. 23.
    Davis v. Davis, 842 S.W.2d 588, 597 (Tenn. 1992). http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/cloning/davis_v_davis.htm. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  24. 24.
    Daar, J. 2001. Frozen embryo disputes revisited: A trocreation-avoidance approaches. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 29(1): 197–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University Paris IIIssy-les-MoulineauxFrance

Personalised recommendations