First Lawsuit Drops Against AB 2098, California’s Doctor-Muzzling, Anti-Free Speech Bill

California's AB 2098 will punish doctors for their opinions. (Credit: Dr. Azadeh Khatibi/Twitter)

The moment California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2098, which effectively tells the state’s doctors that they should self-censor their opinions on COVID, you knew that this would be challenged in court. Your average 7th-grader could tell you that the bill violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, which reads:


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yet AB 2098 says, we don’t care—we’re going to punish you anyway if you say what we don’t like. The bill reads:

The Federation of State Medical Boards has released a statement warning that physicians who engage in the dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation risk losing their medical license, and that physicians have a duty to provide their patients with accurate, science-based information.

Mark McDonald MD is a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and the author of Freedom from Fear: A 12-Step Guide to Personal and National Recovery and United States of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusional Psychosis. You can probably discern his outlook from the titles of those books. He joined with Orange County primary care physician Jeff Barke to file a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the measure:


On October 4, in conjunction with the Liberty Justice Center, I filed a federal lawsuit against the California Medical Board (CMB) challenging Assembly Bill 2098, the medical misinformation bill, which California Governor Gavin Newsom belatedly signed after hours on a Friday, to avoid attracting attention from the media. It will become law on January 1, 2023, effectively denying all physicians in the state of California the right to publicly share their medical opinions, under threat of suspension of their license to practice medicine. [Emphasis mine.]

McDonald continues, explaining the dire consequences of the bill if it’s not struck down by the courts:

If AB 2098 becomes law in 2023, every California physician who expresses an opinion challenging the legitimacy of mask mandates, denial of prophylactic or early treatment, or efficacy or safety of mRNA therapeutics will become a target of the Board for license suspension or termination. Ethical physicians who insist on empirically validated treatment protocols and who object to harmful, anti-scientific, and abusive public health policies or medical treatments will simply leave California or take an early retirement.


McDonald and Barke are far from the only doctors furious about the censorious law. RedState’s Jennifer O’Connell  wrote about how Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an epidemiologist and professor who co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), is also profoundly troubled. “What is abundantly clear is that this bill represents a chilling interference with the practice of medicine,” he said. “The bill itself is full of misinformation and a demonstration of what a disaster it would be to have the legislature dictate the practice of medicine.”

If something like the pandemic ever happens again, will doctors be forced to follow the party line and endorse safety measures like arresting the paddleboarder in Malibu who was in the ocean hundreds of yards from anyone? Will physicians have to applaud idiotic edicts like filling in a skate park with sand so no one can use it? Will they have to recommend booster after booster after booster, even when they’re concerned about some of the adverse health effects they’re seeing?

Meanwhile, is there any better way of shutting down breakthroughs in medicine than muzzling the doctors who are innovating? If every doctor is required to have the same opinion, progress will die. Jonas Salk famously developed the polio vaccine; if he were alive and working in California today, he would probably be shut down because he thinks outside the box.


McDonald sums it up nicely:

The United States Constitution clearly states that the government “shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” AB 2098 does just that. It prevents physicians from speaking. It is unconstitutional, unethical, and harms both doctors and patients. It must be rejected.


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