How Are Mandates Put in Place by Governments in the U.S.A. During the COVID-19 Pandemic Violating the Principle of Non-Maleficence?

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How Are Mandates Put in Place by Governments in the U.S.A. During the COVID-19 Pandemic Violating the Principle of Non-Maleficence?


Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Mackenzie and I’m here to talk about how mandates put in place by the U.S. government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are violating the bioethical principle of Non-Maleficence, which is essentially the idea that no medical solution should do harm to the subject. There are many consequences of mandates and lockdowns, including economic impacts and education impacts, but because the GOA class I’m taking is Bioethics I’ll be focusing on more of the medical consequences, like those relating to physical and mental health. I’m interested in this topic because I follow politics and current events very closely and this gives me an opportunity to connect my personal interests to my class. This issue is very political and controversial, and my recommended responses are a mix of education and activism. This issue is important because it is currently affecting all of us, and will only become more and more politicized as it progresses.


The Principles of Bioethics


The Principles of Bioethics, Explained


How is Non-Maleficence Being Violated?

Mental Health Impacts

Physical Health Impacts


Protecting Mental Health

Protecting Physical Health

Fighting Hurtful Policies

1. Fund and Support Anti-Government-Overreach Organizations, Like The Tea Party Patriots.
2. Attend Anti-Lockdown Rallies.
3. Take Legal Action. File a Lawsuit Through Organizations Like The Pacific Legal Foundation, Or Hire Representation.
4. Support State Think Tanks, Find One In Your State Using The State Policy Network.
5. Don’t Support or Watch News Outlets That Provide Pandemic Propaganda, Like CNN.
6. Start A Petition On
7. Remind People Of Your Rights!


Some consider the policies implemented by the government during this pandemic to be “the most dramatic government intervention into our lives since World War II,” (Reuters), and a common belief held by conservatives is that “Lockdowns and fear serve a purpose for them [liberals] — consolidating their power. The poverty produced by lockdowns increases the number of dependents on the government. Government dependents, fearing for their survival, vote to support big government,” (Fey). Conservatives point to the survival rate for people under 70, 99.8%, as a reason why lockdowns for all ages don’t make sense, and there is currently an uproar about the fact that there is no incentive for getting vaccinated, because masking and social distancing rules have not changed.

The best solution for lockdowns would be that “those who are in special danger due to health conditions and age should be urged to stay out of public and limit their social contacts. The rest should be urged to get back to work and resume living in the safest possible ways until vaccinated,” (Fey). Among the easily foreseen effects, which include “triggering more domestic violence in some areas. Prolonged school closings… preventing special needs children from receiving treatment and could presage a rise in dropouts and delinquency. Public health centers will lose funding, causing a decline in their services and the health of their communities,” there are also a large amount of unknown side effects from these policies that we won’t see the full consequences of until years down the road. Dr. Jay Bhattacharya warns that “The coronavirus can kill… but a global depression will, as well.” Ultimately, we need to decide whether the government’s draconian response is really about helping us, and fulfilling the bioethical principles, or if it’s just another way to consolidate power and make us more reliant on the government, thereby non-maleficence, because as of now it is unlikely that the positive effects of the policies will really outweigh the current and future negative effects.


Please answer these questions in the comments section:

1. How else can we effect change when it comes to pandemic policy?
2. What are other ways the U.S. government might be violating the principle of non-maleficence?
3. Do you think that these policies might be violating any other bioethical principles?
4. What are some more ethical policies the government could implement to combat COVID-19?
5. Has your mental or physical health been impacted by these policies?




  1. Hi Mackenzie, your Catalyst project is provocative! I am unsure if this is satirical or not. Not only is this article pushing conspiracy theories, but it is using false evidence. The evidence that links masks to health concerns is not in any way linked to Stanford and has been debunked I can agree it is definitely important to address the issues of physical and mental health during this pandemic but disregarding widely known facts or writing them off as propaganda with little to no evidence clearly does more harm than good. Although I personally think all lockdown measures were justified I do think there is a debate to be had but that debate requires facts and science and many pieces of evidence here lack that. Although there are many glaring issues here I will say that it is important to highlight the issues of mental health and find ways to address those issues. One way I have found to address mental health is to have cheaper health care options for example a single payer free health care system which would allow people who are most affected by the pandemic through economic or mental health issues to get the help they need.

    1. Hi Buck, your comment is very provocative, but I can’t tell if it’s satirical or not!

      The article in the NCBI was written by a previous Stanford visiting scholar, and you chose to single out one portion of the harmful physical health impacts when in fact that was only one of the many I mentioned, none of which were “conspiracy theories”. And, as my focus was non-maleficence, my goal was not to prove that wearing masks might be more harmful than not wearing masks, but to argue that governments should not mandate anything that has any possible harmful effects. You can agree with this idea or not, but the point is that the argument focuses on the fulfillment of the principle of non-maleficence, it’s not just my own opinion (which you would consider far more provocative) because this isn’t some sort of op-ed, but a project for my bioethics class. Also, while you can dispute how reputable the mask source is, none of the other sources I used for physical health impacts were as controversial. The point of this conference is to read about and try to understand many different perspectives and issues, and the way you responded shows me that you aren’t interested in broadening your knowledge or your understanding of other views. While your opinion on how to fix the mental health issues is fine, I think the prevention of the health issues is a better solution than having those issues be caused by lockdowns and such, and then us having to apply more effort to fix them, which was the whole point of my page, which apparently you missed. If you read about the principle I was referring to, you would understand that my argument is that the government should avoid extra harm, which is the premise of non-maleficence, which in this case would mean preventative measures come first, before any other solution. Thank you very much for your feedback.

  2. Hi Mackenzie,
    I have a few questions concerning your topic as it’s apparent that it’s not satirical. Based on your response to Buck and your subject, I think it would be reasonable to assume that you have conservative views. I completely understand your argument, but I’m wondering about your logic. You want to open up for all ages 70 and below but wouldn’t this only work in higher-income areas where each family has their own home? In other areas, even higher income where families might live with grandparents, this idea would not work. Furthermore, lower-income which have been affected more by COVID would be hurt even more. Having the world re-open without masks allows for COVID to spread, and essential workers coming from these low-income areas (which make up most essential workers) would be slammed by an increase of COVID numbers and possible infections in their communities. Their dearth of resources would also force many of them into further poverty as hospital bills and other expenses while not being able to work would hurt them and the economy as the number of essential workers would plummet. Ultimately, I’m unsure how your solution would be helpful to ALL of America as it seems to target more well-off families. I, too, want to live in a world without COVID but wouldn’t it be easier if, at the start of all this mess, Trump made it a requirement to stay inside for 2 weeks (COVID incubation period)? After those two weeks, we would know who has COVID and who doesn’t, and providing resources would have been much easier. This short quarantine would have also benefitted all those who have experienced real mental health issues because of COVID (which once again is more prevalent in lower-income areas). Sorry, my ideas here I pretty lackluster and so is my writing but after seeing your project I was no doubt drawn to learn more!

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