California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill on Friday that would allow medical boards in the state to punish doctors for spreading COVID-19 misinformation to patients.
Gavin Newsom signs bill making it easier to punish California doctors who spread COVID 'misinformation,' top epidemiologist warns: 'Chilling interference with the practice of medicine' https://t.co/4WLVge0FKi
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) October 3, 2022
Assembly Bill 2098 gives medical boards the power to treat the spread of COVID-19 misinformation as unprofessional conduct punishable by a minimum sentence of five years of probation, and a maximum sentence of full revocation of the doctor’s medical license.
“Assembly Bill 2098 provides that the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19 by physicians and surgeons to a patient under their direct care constitutes unprofessional conduct,” Newsom stated after signing the bill.
The text of the bill appears to rely on reports by major news organizations that claim doctors have been some of the biggest spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation.
“The spread of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines has weakened public confidence and placed lives at serious risk,” the text of the bill reads. “Major news outlets have reported that some of the most dangerous propagators of inaccurate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines are licensed health care professionals.”
Dr. Jay Bhattacharyam, an epidemiologist and professor of Health Policy at the Stanford University School of Medicine, has vocally opposed Bill 2098.
“The language of the bill itself is intentionally vague about what constitutes ‘misinformation,’ which makes it even more damaging,” Bhattacharyam stated. “Doctors, fearing loss of their livelihoods, will need to hew closely to the government line on COVID science and policy, even if that line does not track the scientific evidence.”
“What is abundantly clear is that this bill represents a chilling interference with the practice of medicine,” he concluded.
California State Assembly member Kevin Kiley (R) expressed that he believes the bill infringes on the first amendment.
“On Friday Newsom took a sledgehammer to the First Amendment by signing the medical censorship bill,” Kiley wrote. “The courts will strike down AB 2098 in short order.”