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J Law Med Ethics. 2013 Mar;41 Suppl 1:73-6. doi: 10.1111/jlme.12044.

When law is not law: setting aside legal provisions during declared emergencies.

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Network for Public Health Law-Western Region, and Public Health Law and Policy Program at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, AZ, USA. .


During an emergency, laws designed for normal operations and circumstances may sometimes hinder response efforts, potentially endangering the public's health rather than protecting it. Pursuant to declared states of emergency, however, officials may be authorized to waive or suspend some provisions of state law to address emergency conditions. Such authority can play a critical role in response efforts, but this authority varies significantly between states. States should carefully consider how their existing laws may affect response during a declared emergency and whether adoption of waiver authority would improve their legal structure. Where waiver provisions are in place, officials should ensure they understand its proper scope and utility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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