California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a new state law that allows medical boards to punish physicians who give medical advice that counters the “scientific consensus” on COVID-19
Assembly Bill 2098 states that it “shall constitute unprofessional conduct for a physician and surgeon to disseminate misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information regarding the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment; and the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.”
The statute defines “misinformation” as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.”
That’s a clear violation of doctors’ constitutional rights to free speech and due process, charges a lawsuit filed by five California physicians, including Dr. Tracy Høeg, a prominent critic of the government’s pandemic response.
The complaint argues that in “safeguarding Americans’ rights to free speech and expression, the First Amendment applies not only to expression of majority opinions, but to minority views as well.”
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The new law “impedes” the ability of physicians “to communicate with their patients in the course of treatment.” The lawsuit also argues that the term “scientific consensus” is unconstitutionally vague, violating the plaintiffs’ rights to due process of law.
“We have no doubt that courts will see this unconstitutional law for what it is and strike it down,” said Jenin Younes, a lawyer with the New Civil Liberties Alliance who is representing the doctors.
Høeg warned that if the law is not blocked, “physicians will find themselves in a very difficult position of needing to choose between saying what they truly believe, saying what they think the medical board wants them to say, or simply staying silent.”
In a message to lawmakers, Newsom insisted the law would not have a “chilling effect” on doctors. He contended the legislation was “narrowly tailored to apply only to those egregious instances in which a licensee is acting with malicious intent or clearly deviating from the required standard of care while interacting directly with a patient under their care.”
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