Lewis A. GrossmanDec 8, 2021
Choose Your Medicine
Freedom of Therapeutic Choice in America
Oxford University Press 2021
Throughout American history, lawmakers have limited the range of treatments available to patients, often with the backing of the medical establishment. The country's history is also, however, brimming with social movements that have condemned such restrictions as violations of fundamental American liberties. This fierce conflict is one of the defining features of the social history of medicine in the United States.
In Choose Your Medicine: Freedom of Therapeutic Choice in America (Oxford UP, 2021), Lewis A. Grossman presents a compelling look at how persistent but evolving notions of a right to therapeutic choice have affected American health policy, law, and regulation from the Revolution through the Trump Era. Grossman grounds his analysis in historical examples ranging from unschooled supporters of botanical medicine in the early nineteenth century to sophisticated cancer patient advocacy groups in the twenty-first. He vividly describes how activists and lawyers have resisted a wide variety of legal constraints on therapeutic choice, including medical licensing statutes, FDA limitations on unapproved drugs and alternative remedies, abortion restrictions, and prohibitions against medical marijuana and physician-assisted suicide. Grossman also considers the relationship between these campaigns for desired treatments and widespread opposition to state-compelled health measures such as vaccines and face masks. From the streets of San Francisco to the US Supreme Court, Choose Your Medicine examines an underexplored theme of American history, politics, and law that is more relevant today than ever.
Stephen Pimpare is director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.