Matthews University Distinguished Professor of Law

School of Law

Wendy Parmet


Wendy Parmet, J.D., is the Director of the Northeastern Program on Health Policy & Law, which is housed at the School of Law and promotes interdisciplinary programming and discussions relating to health policy and law.  Her books include Populations, Public Health, and the Law, published by Georgetown University Press in 2009; Ethical Health Care, with Patricia Illingworth, published by Prentice Hall in 2005, and Debates on U.S. Health Care, with Jennie Jacobs Kronenfeld and Mark Z. Zezza, published by Sage Reference in 2012. Professor Parmet has also published over fifty articles in medical journals and law reviews on public health law, health law, and disability law. She is actively involved in health law cases relating to access to care and the protection of population health. In 2011 and 2012 Professor Parmet was lead counsel in Finch v. Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, which established the right of legal immigrants in Massachusetts to receive state-subsidized health insurance.In 1997 and 1998 I was co-counsel in Abbot v. Bragdon, which established the right of individuals who are HIV positive to the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  She has also written several amicus briefs, including one for Health Care for All that was cited by Justice Ginsberg in her dissent in the Supreme Court’s Obamacare case.  She is a member of the Boards of Directors of Health Law Advocates and Health Care for All and am on the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson’s Public Health Law Research Program. Professor Parmet received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her B.A. from Cornell University.


Research Interests:
My research has focused on the use of the law to promote and protect population health and the role that public health plays in the development of the law.  My work is broadly interdisciplinary, and has drawn from constitutional law history and theory, health policy and law, and public health law and ethics. In my 2009 book Populations, Public Health and the Law, I developed and argued for an approach to legal decision analysis and decision making that I coined “population-based legal analysis,” which imports public health’s population perspective in legal analysis. I have applied this approach to a wide-range of public health and health law problems, including infectious disease control, obesity prevention, the role of the states in health policy, and health care access for vulnerable populations. I am currently working with Patricia Illingworth on a book entitled The Health of Newcomers which looks at the intersections between health policy and ethics and immigration policy.


Classes Taught:
Torts for first year law students and Health Law and Problems in Public Health Law. Although the latter two courses are taught at the law school, they are cross-listed with the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and are open to all graduate students.


Recent Publications:

Beyond Paternalism: The Limits of Public Health Law, forthcoming in CONNECTICUT LAW REVIEW.


The Courts and Public Health: Caught in a Pincer Movement, 104 AMERICAN J. OF PUBLIC HEALTH 391 (2014) with Peter D. Jacobson.


Perspective – Holes in the Safety Net – Legal Immigrants’ Access to Health Insurance, 369 New England Journal of Medicine 596 (2013).


Valuing the Unidentified:  The Potential of Public Health Law, 53 Jurimetrics 255 (2013).


Public Health Law Research:  Editor’s Introduction, 38 J. HEALTH POL., POL’Y 3L. 629 (2013) with Michelle M. Mello.


Beyond Externships:  Health Law Co-ops, 9 IND. HEALTH  L.REV. 401 (2012).


Solidarity for Global Health , 26Bioethics ii (2012) with Patricia Illingworth.