See my previous post: California Legislature Passes Bill Targeting Doctors Promoting COVID-19 ‘Misinformation’.
California has made informed consent impossible with this bill, forever damaging the doctor-patient relationship, and endangering the health of millions.
Introduced in February 2022 by California assembly member Evan Low and now awaiting the signature of the governor, Gavin Newsom, the bill designated as AB 2098 would allow state medical boards to punish physicians who spread misinformation or disinformation regarding Covid-19 and its treatment options. The bill defines “misinformation” as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care” and “disinformation” as misinformation provided with “malicious intent or an intent to mislead.”
Jokes about a Covid-19 “ministry of truth” aside, the bill represents an alarming push to create scientific consensus through government force rather than open debate and the gradual accumulation of evidence.
The most obvious problem with AB 2098 is the bill’s assumption that a term like “scientific consensus” is a specific enough guideline for tracking and punishing misinformation by medical professionals. This is a particular problem for topics relating to Covid-19; there may be consensus in a rough sense, but the finer details often remain contentious...
...It is not hard to imagine AB 2098 creating yet more confusion about the pandemic if providers punished today turn out to align with tomorrow’s consensus. Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, for example, drew the ire of many medical and public-health professionals when his views on country-wide lockdowns diverged with mainstream opinions. Though later evidence that lockdowns did more harm than good vindicated Bhattacharya, under AB 2098, he could have been punished for these views.
AB 2098 does get one thing right. The bill states: “The spread of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines has weakened public confidence and placed lives at serious risk.” Yet the very next line says that “[m]ajor news outlets” have reported that health-care professionals are among the “most dangerous propagators of inaccurate information.” This is, to put it mildly, a strange juxtaposition. Legacy media outlets have amplified plenty of misinformation throughout multiple stages of the pandemic. CNN patted itself on the back in 2021 for highlighting physicians who overstressed the harms of vaccination, but in 2020 it exaggerated Americans’ anxieties about returning to work without a vaccine and played up fears that rushed vaccines would be unsafe. Meantime, Fox News touted the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in combatting Covid-19, prior to systematic reviews demonstrating that the drug was, at best, ineffective.