A group of California physicians filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s medical board over a new law that will regulate what doctors can tell patients about COVID-19 risks and treatments.
A.B. 2098 will make it “unprofessional conduct” for physicians or surgeons to provide their patients “false information” related to COVID-19, including vaccines, “that is contradicted by “contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.”
The legislation discriminates against alternative viewpoints and creates “a severe chilling effect,” contradicting the First Amendment, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA)-backed lawsuit contends.
The lawsuit’s plaintiffs, Drs. Tracy Høeg, Ram Duriseti Aaron Kheriaty, Pete Mazolewski and Azadeh Khatibi, are all board-licensed physicians and surgeons. Newsom signed the law Sept. 30, and it has been scheduled to be effective Jan. 1, 2023.
“I think this is a horrendous First Amendment violation and violates the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, and it jeopardizes doctors’ ability to treat their patients to the best of their ability,” NCLA Litigation Counsel told Jenin Younes told the DCNF. “Doctors are supposed to use their own judgment and experience to treat each patient individually, not to parrot some supposed consensus that may or may not even exist.”
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The plaintiffs motioned the court to stop California from enforcing the law as long as the litigation is pending.
The law runs afoul of the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process because “contemporary scientific consensus” is not a legally-defined term and cannot be logically defined, according to the lawsuit.
Newsom has claimed the law “is 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.”
“Several Plaintiffs have experienced threats from other doctors and individuals on social media to use AB 2098 to have their licenses taken away, an obvious attempt to suppress the doctors’ speech,” an NCLA press release says. “They are being put between a rock and a hard place, fearing repercussions for acting in their patients’ best interests by honestly giving them the information they believe their patients need in order to make informed care decisions.”