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Challenging new legislation that permits healthcare practitioners to be disciplined

Two doctors from Southern California are challenging new legislation that permits healthcare practitioners to be disciplined – or even lose their licenses – for spreading false information about the COVID-19 virus. The doctors have been vocal opponents of mandatory masking and have voiced concerns regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

This week, a federal lawsuit was filed by a psychiatrist in Los Angeles named Mark McDonald and a primary care physician in Orange County named Jeff Barke. The lawsuit is an attempt to stop a new law in California that makes it illegal to spread misinformation or deliberate misinformation about COVID-19 and calls it “unprofessional conduct.” The Medical Boards of California & State Attorney Rob Bonta were named as defendants in the lawsuit that was submitted to the United States Circuit Court for the Central State of California. They are defended by Liberty Justice Center, which is a charitable legal organization with its headquarters in Chicago.

This past month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2098, which gives state medical boards the authority to take “enforcement measures” against practitioners who propagate misleading material, and in extreme circumstances, to withdraw their licenses to practice medicine altogether. According to the language of the proposed legislation, “misinformation” is defined as “false information that is refuted by present scientific agreement.”

According to the complaint, AB 2098 violates the free speech rights guaranteed by the 1st Amendment and forbids medical professionals in the state of California from expressing opinions that go against the “scientific consensus.” In addition, the lawsuit claims that during the course of the epidemic, the “consensus view” and official instructions have evolved as a result of the discovery of new facts.

McDonald declared in a statement, “If this time period has shown us anything, it’s that the medical and scientific settings are always altering, as fresh evidence and research corroborate or reject earlier policy.” “Because of the very nature of the enterprise that is science, it is essential that medical professionals have the latitude to investigate other hypotheses and voice ideas that go counter to the prevailing wisdom.

The state of California has no business interfering in the interaction between a doctor and patient in order to impose its worldview on medical professionals and put a stop to any discussion of these significant issues.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 have been deemed by Food and Drug Agency to be both safe and effective; thus, AB 2098 was drafted in order to counteract the spread of false information about these vaccines by medical professionals. According to the text of the proposed legislation, the widespread dissemination of misleading information on the COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic “weakened public trust and put lives in significant danger.”

According to the allegations made in the complaint, both Barke & McDonald engaged in “outspoken” criticism of “flaws” in the response of the public health community to the epidemic while it was in progress. Both medical professionals voiced their opposition to isolating children, disagreed with the idea that adults should be required to wear masks, advocated for the use of drugs such as ivermectin to treat COVID-19, and “expressed reservations” about the immunizations.

McDonald in particular has drawn the attention of the Medical Board for California, which seems to be conducting an inquiry following anonymous complaints about his activities on social media. These allegations concern McDonald’s social media activity.

In December 2021, the board informed McDonald’s that it had received an anonymous complaint in which it was alleged that his postings on Facebook and Twitter concerning masks were reported as containing inaccurate material. In January 2022, the board of directors reached out to McDonald’s once again and requested a response to charges that he was advocating the usage of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 on Twitter. McDonald gave a reply in which he said that it was “his habit to advocate on medical therapies that have the clearest scientific data to support their effectiveness and safety.”

According to the lawsuit, the Medical Board sent McDonald’s another email seeking an interview on August 30th. The complaint claims that the interview would most likely have taken place in the upcoming months. According to the plaintiffs’ arguments, the board’s “pursuit” of McDonald’s “demonstrates the desire of the Board to utilize the authority provided to them through the California state legislature to penalize physicians” for their speech.

This week, McDonald and Barke not only filed the case but also submitted documents in an effort to have a preliminary injunction issued.

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