LOS ANGELES, CA – A group of California-based medical professionals are rallying against a bill that, if passed into state law, would impose restrictions upon licensed physicians and surgeons from spreading what is deemed as “COVID-19 misinformation,” with the possible revocation of their license to practice medicine as the penalty for violating it.
California Assemblyman Evan Low, a Democrat, introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 2098 on February 15, which would call for Medical Board of California or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California to impose disciplinary measures against doctors who are found to have perpetuated mistruths in regards to COVID-19 mask-wearing, vaccines, and treatment options.
However, the exact nature or degree of the misinformation that is required to impose the disciplinary measures is not clear in the language of the bill, and that’s what has some medical professionals up in arms, according to Physician Dr. Jeff Barke.
“The idea that they’re going to come after physicians that spread misinformation, without defining what misinformation is, [is] frightening,” he said.
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Barke, a private practice physician in Newport Beach, says he has been a staunch proponent of individual freedom of choice when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, arguing that mask-wearing, vaccination, and lockdown mandates were not needed in combating the pandemic. But while Barke does express opposition to mandates, he maintains that he is not against taking COVID-19 vaccines.
The idea regarding his opposition to AB 2098, Barke says, is that he simply feels any piece of legislation that blocks freedom of speech could plunge the entire scientific community into chaos.
“Science is not about consensus. It’s not about agreement. It’s about sharing and debating ideas,” Barke said. “That sharing and debating ideas has not been allowed during the COVID crisis.”
However, another opponent of the bill – Mark McDonald, a private practice psychiatrist in Los Angeles –said that he will continue to speak his mind about the pandemic, even if the bill is passed and becomes law.
“If they want to challenge me, then I’ll take them to court,” he said. “We’re going into year three of this nonsense and I think when you stand up and you don’t give an inch, in most cases, the bullies are actually cowards, and they will collapse.”