CHICAGO — “Open communication between patients and physicians is essential to medical care and must be protected from legislative gag orders. The court ruling is a clear victory against censorship of private medical discussions between patients and physicians. The State of Florida cannot ignore constitutional rights by limiting the free speech necessary for the practice of medicine.
“The American Medical Association strongly opposed Florida’s Firearms Owners Privacy Act and along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and seven other medical specialty societies urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to uphold a lower court decision that ruled the law unconstitutional. A joint amicus brief filed by the medical societies stressed that lawmakers cannot insert the state into the patient-physician relationship by dictating, prohibiting, or threatening open communication between patients and physicians.
“As cited in the decision, longstanding AMA policy supports physician consultations about firearm safety and risks to help patients safeguard themselves and their families from accidents. The court agreed that in the fields of medicine and public health, information saves lives. Studies show that patients who received physician counseling on firearm safety are more likely to adopt one or more safe gun-storage practices.
“This case has always been about the First Amendment right to free speech, not the Second Amendment right to own and possess firearms. The court found no evidence that any doctor has infringed on patients’ Second Amendment rights. Counseling patients we care for makes a difference in preventing gun-related injuries and deaths. The political interests of state lawmakers do not justify infringing on the patient-physician relationship and stifling relevant medical discussions that are entitled to First Amendment protection.”
Editor’s note: The seven medical specialty societies that joined the AMA and the American Academy of Pediatrics in the amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit were the: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For additional background on this case, please visit AMA Wire and the Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies.
Robert J. Mills
ph: (312) 464-5970
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