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.

The CMB has targeted me personally, launching an “investigation” into allegations that I “spread medical misinformation” on my social media pages regarding masks, early treatment, and mRNA injections. This lawsuit, though, is not about me—it is a challenge to the constitutionality of AB 2098, as the law prohibits medical free speech.

The CMB has been pushing for an expansion of its enforcement powers for some time. Kristina Lawson, CMB President and attorney (not physician), wrote in the board’s quarterly newsletter this year that “the spread of COVID-19 misinformation among the physician community continues to be a concern for me and my fellow Board members and is something that everyone at the Board is working to address.” She goes on to say that “the solution won’t be easy, but with the help of our stakeholders and the state legislature, we hope to minimize the harm that physicians who promote unproven, unsafe treatments, and choose intimidation and harassment in place of science, are causing California’s healthcare consumers.”

What is the solution Kristina Lawson has proposed? In her January 5, 2022 letter to the California State Senate, she makes two requests:

1.     More money for the Board’s enforcement program targeting physicians
2.     Lowering the legal standard required to prosecute physicians

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.

AB 2098 does not end with California, though. The silencing of medical speech and debate will spread to other states, which will adopt similar measures. The medical establishment, which has already suffered a tremendous loss of confidence among patients for its abdication of ethical standards during the pandemic, will see a further erosion of trust, as patients will no longer be able to determine whether their treating physician is providing appropriate care or simply following treatment guidelines developed by politicians and ideologues whose interests are aligned with power and money rather than actual benefit to the patient.

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.

Mark McDonald, M.D.
Psychiatrist and author of United States of Fear: How America Fell Victim to a Mass Delusional Psychosis and Freedom From Fear: A 12 Step Guide to Personal and National Recovery