California Passes Bill to Punish Doctors Who ‘Disseminate Misinformation’ on COVID

Micky Wootten | September 1, 2022 | 12:18pm EDT
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(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNS News) – A California Assembly bill that would require the Medical Board of California to punish licensed doctors who “disseminate misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19,” passed through the state Senate on Aug. 29 and is now headed to the governor’s desk.

In a letter to lawmakers, Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) opposed the legislation and said it was “anti-doctor, anti-public health, anti-science, and anti-free speech and we urge you to oppose it.” 

The legislation, Assembly Bill 2098, would add a section to the “Business and Professions Code, relating to healing arts.”

As it states, “Existing law provides for the licensure and regulation of physicians and surgeons by the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. Existing law requires the applicable board to take action against any licensed physician and surgeon who is charged with unprofessional conduct, as provided.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“This bill would designate the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, or ‘COVID-19,’ as unprofessional conduct,” reads the legislation. “The bill would also make findings and declarations in this regard."

The section to be added to the Business and Professions Code reads, “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.”

According to the bill, “misinformation,” is “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” The bill defines “disinformation” as “misinformation that the licensee deliberately disseminated with malicious intent or an intent to mislead.”

The bill, which was introduced by Assembly Member Evan Low (D-28th District), would affect all physicians and surgeons “licensed by the Medical Board of California or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California.”

 

California Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low (29th district)
California Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low (29th district)

According to Low, who is chairman of the LGBTQ Caucus, “This bill declares that disinformation and promotion of COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation to the public as unprofessional conduct for licensed physicians and surgeons. Under this law, California Medical Boards will be given the tools necessary to bring discipline actions against a licensee. Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust and therefore must be held to account.”

In its March 2022 letter to California lawmakers, Physicians for Informed Consent said, “Without California doctors being free to speak their mind and educate the public, regarding COVID-19 or vaccination or any other controversial topic, no other public health laws will matter as legislators will not be able to obtain knowledge from a breadth of physician and surgeon opinions, and the public will not be able to obtain their doctors’ honest opinion -- because doctors who think and act differently from the contemporary “applicable standard of care” will fear losing their medical license.”

“In allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, we oppose AB 2098—and deem it as the worst bill of the 2022 legislative session,” said Dr. Shira Miller, founder and president of the PIC, in the letter. “AB 2098 is anti-doctor, anti-public health, anti-science, and anti-free speech.”

In the letter, Dr. Miller included a copy of a PIC document, “COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates: 20 Scientific Facts That Challenge the Assumptions.” According to the letter, “if AB 2098 becomes law,” then this document produced by PIC which challenges mainstream medical assumptions “may effectively become banned.”

Anthony Fauci, lead member of the COVID Response Team and chief medical advisor to President joe Biden.  (Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, lead member of the COVID Response Team and chief medical advisor to President joe Biden. (Getty Images)

Some of the assumptions the document challenge include:

  1. ASSUMPTION: The COVID-19 vaccines significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19, so high universal vaccination rates will prevent outbreaks and end the pandemic.
  2. ASSUMPTION: The COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial was large enough to show safety in children.
  3. ASSUMPTION: It’s known that COVID-19 vaccines have no long-term side effects.

CNS News contacted the office of Assembly Member Low to ask how he responds to critics who say AB 2098 could violate the free speech of practicing physicians in the State of California. Low’s office did not respond.

The bill, introduced in February, passed the State Assembly in May and passed the California State Senate on Aug. 29. It now awaits Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature before it officially becomes law.

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