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    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    Legislating the Doctor's Visit: There are already oh so many ways that government sticks its nose into the once sacrosanct doctor-patient relationship. We have laws that require reporting any suspicion of child abuse or neglect. We are required to let government auditors nose through our charts. We're required to immunize against certain diseases. We're required to fill out lenghty forms detailing medical conditions for the Family Medical Leave Act. But, this is ridiculous:

    A pediatrician who asks a child's parent about firearms in their home could lose his or her license or be disciplined under legislation being considered by a [Virginia state] Senate committee today.

    The bill would prohibit health care professionals from asking a patient about gun possession, ownership or storage unless the patient is being treated for an injury related to guns or asks for safety counseling about them....

    Sure there are some doctors out there who can turn this question into a confrontation, but most reasonable people can surely see the advantages of asking about guns in the home and taking the opportunity to discuss gun safety. Especially when kids are involved. The problem arises when doctors take their advocacy a step too far. The doctor who reports parents to child protective services when they admit to using corporal punishment (not abuse, but spanking) cross that line. It isn't hard to imagine a passionately anti-gun doctor reporting parents for child endangering by virtue of owning guns. Perhaps that's the impetus behind this legislation, but it's a horrible over-reach by the legislature. It seems that freedom of speech is increasingly underattack everywhere in the most insiduous ways.

    UPDATE: I should note that Virginia lawmakers voted down the measure, but it's still chilling that an elected representative would even think to introduce such a measure.

    posted by Sydney on 2/26/2006 11:56:00 AM 4 comments


    I support the right to bear arms, but this is ludicrous. At best it harms the cause of private gun ownership in the U.S.

    FWIW, gun ownership is so rare in my part of the world (Eastern MA) that I virtually never ask the question anyway.



    By Blogger Flea, at 2:11 PM  

    This proposed law looks like an obvious violation of the first amendment. Let doctors express themselves!
    - precision blogger

    By Blogger Daniel H, at 6:21 PM  

    As a Virginia resident, member of the NRA and VCDL, and CHP holder, I agree that this legislation restricts the free speech rights of doctors-I would have no problem with doctors discussing the health risks of having guns in the home, if they balanced it by pointing out the health risks of *not* having guns in the home. After all, as Eric at Classical Values has pointed out, isn't protecting your life a health issue, too!

    By Blogger David, at 8:51 PM  

    You're right! This is another attempt to attack personal liberties. I say, let the doctor ask what ever they want and let the patient respond with It's none of you're stinking business!

    By Anonymous Steven, at 10:25 AM  

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