UCLA’s Health Law and Policy Program, in partnership with ChangeLab Solutions, the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, is pleased to present Health Justice: Engaging Critical Perspectives in Health Law and Policy. This initiative brings together scholars, advocates, and policymakers to develop, disseminate, and implement innovative strategies for securing justice, valuing human dignity, and empowering communities to address the structural and social determinants of health.
The Health Justice: Engaging Critical Perspectives Initiative fosters theory, practice, and action on health justice. Our focus is on applying critical perspectives—including critical race theory, Lat Crit, ClassCrit, black feminist theory, feminist legal theory, queer theory, critical disability studies, and more—to the most pressing challenges in health law and policy. We have a big-tent vision of health law and policy, encompassing public health, the social determinants of health, health care, bioethics, and global health.
We aim to encourage health law and policy scholars, advocates, workers, and justice movement activists to engage more deeply with critical perspectives. We also hope to encourage scholars, advocates, workers, and activists from various critical perspectives who have not previously engaged in the health law and policy sphere to do so as part of this project.
What is Health Justice?
A Discussion with the Health Justice Initiative Co-Chairs
Watch "What Is Health Justice?" A Discussion with Lindsay Wiley, Ruqaiijah Yearby, Emily Benfer, and Seema Mohapatra.
What Does Health Justice Mean to You?
"I work with low-income communities in metropolitan areas, and health justice means an opportunity to think beyond basic human survival."
-- Courtney L. Anderson, Georgia State University, College of Law
"Health justice, to me, is a parallel concept to Reproductive Justice. Health rights are not sufficient to ensure access-- true health justice requires action to address structures that put health out of reach for some on the basis of morally arbitrary characteristics (e.g. race, immigration status, sexuality, gender, zip code)."
-- Rachel Fabi, Upstate Medical University
"It means truly listening to the thoughts and wishes of all members of the community when it comes to health care -- not dismissing their agency, or adopting new 'enlightened' forms of paternalism based on the belief that their medical decisions cannot be trusted."
-- Joan Krause, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Law
"I work in an operationally focused center for health security, which means that we are on the ground responding to infectious disease outbreak. With COVID-19, we have worked to implement infection prevention and control measures in some of the most undeserved groups--in meat processing plants, for example. We've also spent time in nursing homes training and trying to support staff with real-time consults and mentorship in infection prevention and control. The Health Justice framework is new to me, but to date, it has meant consistently overturning 'neutral' positions, processes, and plans when it comes to responding to COVID-19. Investigating those 'neutral' position often mean examining the power gradient that exists institutionally, interpersonally, structurally, etc. This requires collaborating more broadly and inviting more voices into response plans in both the academic community and within the community we are supporting. Our teams have become more interdisciplinary, and in some of the better examples, more able to ask communities what they need from us and adapting our plans, and 'best practices' to respond to those needs."
-- Abbey Lowe, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health
"Health justice offers an alternative to the market competition, professional autonomy, and patient rights paradigms that have historically dominated health law scholarship, advocacy, and reform. Based on the experiences of the reproductive justice, environmental justice, and food justice movements, a health justice approach to using law as a tool to eliminate health disparities involves at least three key commitments: First, to a broader inquiry that views access to health care as one among many social determinants of health deserving of public attention and resources. Second, to probing inquiry into the effects of racism, misogyny, classism, and other forms of structural, social, and cultural bias on the design and implementation of measures to reduce health disparities. And third, to collective action
grounded in community engagement and empowerment."
-- Lindsay F. Wiley, UCLA School of Law
Recommended for Further Reading on Health Justice
- Affirmative Action for Affordable Housing, Courtney L. Anderson
- A Blueprint for Changemakers: Achieving Health Equity Through Law & Policy, ChangeLab Solutions
- The Civil Rights of Health: A New Approach to Challenging Structural Inequality, Angela P. Harris and Aysha Pamukcu
- Centering Community in Public Health. Measuring the Impact of Building Community Power for Health Justice: What? Why? And How?, The Praxis Project
- Contaminated Childhood: How the United States Failed to Prevent the Chronic Lead Poisoning of Low-Income Children and Communities of Color, Emily A. Benfer
- Fragmented Democracy, Jamila Michener
- From Patient Rights to Health Justice: Securing the Public’s Interest in Affordable, High-Quality Health Care, Lindsay F. Wiley
- Health Justice: A Framework (and Call to Action) for the Elimination of Health Inequity and Social Injustice, Emily A. Benfer
- Health Justice Strategies to Eradicate Lead Poisoning: an Urgent Call to Action to Safeguard Future Generations, Emily A. Benfer, Emily Coffey, Allyson E. Gold, Mona Hanna-Attisha, Bruce P. Lanphear, Helen Y. Li, Ruth Ann Norton, David Rosner, and Kate Walz
- Health Law as Social Justice, Lindsay F. Wiley
- Health Justice Strategies to Combat COVID-19: Protecting Vulnerable Communities During a Pandemic, Emily A. Benfer, Lindsay F. Wiley
- Health Justice Strategies to Combat the Pandemic: Eliminating Discrimination, Poverty, and Health Inequity During and After COVID-19, Emily A. Benfer, Seema Mohapatra, Lindsay F. Wiley, and Ruqaiijah Yearby
- The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity
- Integrate and Reactivate the 1968 Fair Housing Mandate, Courtney L. Anderson
- Procedural Animus, Katherine Macfarlane
- Report on Racism as a Public Health Crisis, Ruqaiijah Yearby, Crystal N. Lewis, Keon L. Gilbert, and Kira Banks
- There's No Place Like Home: Reshaping Community Interventions and Policies to Eliminate Environmental Hazards and Improve Population Health for Low-Income and Minority Communities, Emily A. Benfer, Allyson E. Gold
Upcoming Health Justice Events
Future Health Justice Initiative events TBA.
Past Health Justice Events
2022 JLME Symposium
A special open-access symposium issue on Health Justice: Engaging Critical Perspectives in Health Law and Policy was published in the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics in March 2023.
The symposium was edited by Health Justice Initiative Co-Chairs Lindsay F. Wiley, Ruqaiijah Yearby, Brietta Clark, and Seema Mohapatra.
Authors included Sabrina Adler, Aziza Ahmed, Courtney Anderson, Yael Cannon, Alejandra Caraballo, Robert Chang, Andrea Freeman, Charlene Galarneau, Keon Gilbert, Jasmine Harris, Angela P. Harris, Kim Libman, Medha Maklouf, Greg Miao, Katie Michael, Jamila Michener, Pratima Musburger, Aysha Pamukcu, Tomar Pierson-Brown, Addie Rolnick, Patrick Smith, Nicole Tuchidna, Ruqaiijah Yearby, and Tina Yuen.
Our October 2022 workshop, hosted at UCLA’s Luskin Conference Center, featured may of the authors in the 2022 JLME symposium issue: Sabrina Adler, Aziza Ahmed, Courtney Anderson, Yael Cannon, Alejandra Caraballo, Robert Chang, Andrea Freeman, Charlene Galarneau, Keon Gilbert, Jasmine Harris, Angela P. Harris, Kim Libman, Medha Maklouf, Greg Miao, Jamila Michener, Pratima Musburger, Aysha Pamukcu, Tomar Pierson-Brown, Addie Rolnick, Patrick Smith, Nicole Tuchidna, and Ruqaiijah Yearby. Several commentators enriched the discussion: Devon Carbado, Lauren Clark, Christine Cordero, Daniel Goldberg, Thalia González, Yvonne Mariajiminez, Ilan Meyer, Xavier Morales, and Lauren van Schilfgaarde. Conference co-chairs Brietta Clark, Seema Mohapatra, Lindsay Wiley, and Ruqaiijah Yearby were also in attendance, along with additional representatives of community organizations and funders and the UCLA faculty.
Workshop participants expressed many variations on the core themes of respect for community, partnership between scholars and community advocates, and calls to action to achieve health justice. They highlighted the need for social movement organizers and scholars to work together to build more just political, economic, legal, and social systems. They emphasized that doing this work requires coming to terms with the racialized nature of these systems and repairing and redressing the trauma these systems have caused. They focused on the need to ground health justice in the work of building what people need to thrive. Building on other social justice movements, participants emphasized that lawyers and others with specialized expertise should be on call and ready to help, but that community should lead these efforts. Some participants pointed out that the commitment to community-led efforts must involve granting communities the right to make mistakes as they try to address historical traumas. A central theme of the workshop was a call to break down silos and work collaboratively with community organizations and scholars in areas beyond those traditionally understood as being within the purview of health law and policy, such as education, the criminal legal system, the immigration system, labor and employment law, housing, transportation, food justice, and political economy.
2021 Blog Symposium
In the fall of 2021, Ruqaiijah Yearby and Lindsay F. Wiley co-edited a Health Justice: Engaging Critical Perspectives in Health Law & Policy blog symposium hosted by the Bill of Health Blog of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.
The symposium featured posts by Mary Crossley, Jennifer Cohen, Rachel Rebouche, Aziza Ahmed, Sridhar Venkatapuram, Matt Lawrence, Katherine Macfarlane, Heather Walter-McCabe, Aysha Pamukcu, Angela P. Harris, Solange Gould, Daniel Dawes, Alexis Etow, Thalia Gonzalez, Monic McLemore, Wendy Epstein, Liz Tobin-Tyler, Joel Teitelbaum, Yael Cannon, Dayna Bowen Matthew, Charlene Galarneau, Medha Makhlouf, Keon Gilbert, Jerrell DeCaille, Liz McCuskey, Melissa Creary, Amber Johnson, Jamila Michener, Sara deGuia, Rachel Davis, and Kiran Savage-Sangwan.
In coordination with the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, the Health Justice Initiative hosted a webinar in September 2021 featuring Ruqaiijah Yearby, Lindsay F. Wiley, Aysha Pamukcu, Angela P. Harris, Charlene Galarneau, and Jamila Michener. Panelists discussed: What does health justice mean? How does health justice relate to other frameworks for advocacy, teaching, research, and scholarship? And how should the community be involved in efforts to realize health justice?
On October 2, 2020 American University’s Health Law and Policy Program hosted a virtual conference on Health Justice: Engaging Critical Perspectives in Health Law and Policy.
Conference steering committee members included Emily Benfer, Brian C. Castrucci, Brietta Clark, Sarah de Guia, Gregg Gonsalves, Angela Harris, Nan Hunter, Dayna Bowen Matthew, Seema Mohapatra, Jamila Taylor, Lindsay F. Wiley, and Ruqaiijah Yearby.
Welcome Remarks - watch video
Panel 1: Securing Distributive Justice - watch video
Panel 2: Valuing Human Dignity - watch video
Panel 3: Empowering Communities - watch video
Conference speakers included:
Courtney Anderson, J.D.
Associate Professor of Law
Georgia State University College of Law
Emily Benfer, J.D.
Visiting Professor of Law
Wake Forest School of Law
Brietta Clark, J.D.
Professor of Law and J. Rex Dibble Fellow
Loyola Law School
Sarah de Guia, J.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Maria R. Gonzalez Albuixech, MSPS
Director, Communications and Immigrant Health
Health Care for All
Katherine Macfarlane, J.D.
Associate Professor of Law
University of Idaho College of Law
Jamila Michener, Ph.D., MA
Associate Professor, Co-Director, Cornell Center for Health Equity
Dian Million, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of American Indian Studies
University of Washington
Seema Mohapatra, J.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor of Law and Dean's Fellow
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Xavier Morales, Ph.D., MRP
The Praxis Project
Lindsay Wiley, J.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Law and Director of the Health Law and Policy Program
American University Washington College of Law
Ruqaiijah Yearby, J.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Law and Executive Director and Co-Founder, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity
Saint Louis University School of Law
Questions about Health Justice? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.