Governor DeSantis pushes a bill that protects doctors’ free speech

Governor DeSantis is supporting a bill that would prohibit hospitals from taking medical licenses from physicians who speak out on issues like COVID-19.

During the press conference Thursday, DeSantis said it’s sad there has to be a bill for this, but he wants doctors to have freedom and plans to hold hospitals accountable.

The Governor and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo believe the pandemic has put some doctors’ first amendment rights at risk. “I mean you think my colleagues have been taken over by zombies,” Ladapo said.

On Thursday, the Governor says it’s time to stand up for the traditional practice of medicine.

“We want doctors to be able to practice medicine and not just be genuflecting whatever may come out of some of these agencies or professional bodies,” DeSantis said.

He mentioned how last year, the Federation of State Medical Board said the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation may put medical licenses at risk.

Now, the Governor is backing a bill that would prohibit certain departments from sanctioning or revoking licenses of health care practitioners for exercising free speech.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, Professor of Pediatrics at UF weighed in on this.

“Some physicians have been silenced, and those physicians have primarily been pushing, not the least of which is Dr. Ladapo, treatments that have been shown not only to not be effective but actually to cause harm,” Goldhagen said.

Dr. Goldhagen calls the Governor and Dr. Ladapo’s remarks sad and says there is no place for these statements.

“Physicians in this state are not zombies,” Goldhagen said. “They have worked very hard over the last two years, despite the political overtones of what they’ve had to deal with.”

When it comes to treatments for COVID-19, the governor says people should have the right to access different COVID-19 treatments and that if hospitals block that type of care, he’ll hold them accountable under state law.

Florida Doctors in the Committee to Protect Health Care released a statement Thursday saying the legislation allows health care professions to spread disinformation, unproven treatments, and other medically inaccurate information.

Dr. Bernard Ashby says “As physicians, we urge Gov. DeSantis to stop using his massive bully pulpit to undermine the work of thousands of health care professionals who are trying to save lives. Physicians follow a standard of care that is rigorous and we practice evidence-based medicine to build trust as we care for our patients.”

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad