Federal Court Blocks California’s New Medical Misinformation Law

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new state law that would allow regulators to punish doctors for disseminating false or misleading information about coronavirus vaccinations and treatments to their patients.

The law, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, was meant to address the wave of misinformation that swept over the course of the pandemic.

Although the statute’s wording was closely aligned, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Judge William B. Shabb said Wednesday that the definition of false information and the uncertainty about its enforcement is “unconstitutionally vague.” made a judgment that it was

The lawsuit is one of two legal challenges facing the Act, which seeks to address what the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Medical Association say cost unnecessary illnesses and lives. This is the first attempt in the United States to

In December, another judge in the Central District of California denied an injunction in a similar case. The split verdict makes it more likely that the fate of the law will ultimately be decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

“It’s an attempt to silence doctors who disagree with” the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other regulatory bodies, said Jennine Younes, an attorney with the New Civil Rights Alliance in Washington. He said he thought he was. He represented five doctors who filed lawsuits.

Judge Shabb, appointed in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, said in his ruling that he did not consider the question of whether the law violated the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections. Stated. Rather, he found that the statute’s provisions violated plaintiffs’ due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The law expands the powers of the California Medical Board to license physicians and recognizes dissemination of false or misleading medical information to patients as “unprofessional conduct.” That could lead to the suspension or revocation of her medical license in the state.

Judge Shab argued that the definition of misinformation — “false information that goes against the standard of care and contradicts contemporary scientific consensus” — can have a chilling effect on physician-patient interactions. made a verdict. He granted a preliminary injunction to block the law pending the full hearing of the complaint.

One of the plaintiffs, psychiatrist Aaron Keliati, who has challenged many government policies spawned during the pandemic, said in an interview on Thursday how best to deal with pandemics like this one in particular. He said the law was too strict given the growing understanding of .

“Today’s citation and unquoted misinformation will be tomorrow’s standard of care,” he said.

Newsom’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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