Dangerous Speech from Doctors

So, what is it with these laws that try to stifle doctors from speaking honestly with their patients about matters that concern their health? Going back to the Reagan years, ‘gag laws’ are popular with the same politicians that preach against ‘gummint interference in our health care’.

Mining corporations in Pennsylvania have legislated to put doctor’s careers at risk if they disclose the names of chemicals that have made their patients sick.

In Florida, pediatricians had to fight for the right to follow their best judgment in protecting children. Today, Medscape.com, reports that the First Amendment still protects us…

Florida chapters of national medical societies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with several individual physicians, sued the state in federal court to block what they called a “gag law.” They argued that physicians should be free to ask patients, especially parents of young children, whether they own guns, and if so, to advise them about safe storage. The ultimate goal is to prevent shootings that occur, for example, when a child finds a loaded pistol in a desk drawer.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), which had lobbied for the law’s passage, unsuccessfully tried to intervene as a party in the federal case. It saw the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms at stake, as opposed to the First Amendment and free speech.

Louis St Petery, MD, a pediatric cardiologist in Tallahassee, Florida, and executive vice president of the state’s AAP chapter, hailed Judge Cooke’s latest ruling as a victory for preventive care.

“We were not out after gun owners’ rights,” Dr. St Petery told Medscape Medical News. “We were out to protect children. Pediatricians need to discuss [gun safety] issues openly to prevent children from getting killed.”

Government is flawed and corruptible, but when special interests use local power to pass bad laws, citizens can and must call on our Constitutional rights. Industry loves deregulation, except when it’s bad for business.