Californians are growing increasingly frustrated with Governor Gavin Newsom’s expanding and seemingly endless overreach of powers. Newsom began his quest to control nearly all aspects of his citizens’ lives — from how they cook and eat to how they work — long before the COVID pandemic began. He then used his perpetual emergency powers under the pandemic to dramatically accelerate this process.
Newsom’s means of broadening his control tend to fit a common formula: identify simple things that normal people consider to be their rights, treat those rights as privileges, take them away, and perhaps force people to behave the right way (as defined by Newsom) to earn those privileges back.
When Newsom signed AB5 into law, independent contractors were told that their jobs were now illegal in California because they must be classified as employees, not contractors. In an instant, hundreds of thousands of hard-working truckers, barbers, drivers, private tutors, and many other Californians who were happily employed had their livelihoods jeopardized or destroyed largely because Newsom wanted to expand the ranks of dues-paying union members in California. Now those same workers must ask permission to practice their own skill.
In the face of a prolonged drought — for which Newsom refused to properly prepare — he issued heavy watering restrictions on non-residential customers while backing off a threat to impose draconian restrictions on residents only because it was impossible to surpass existing local watering restrictions. Since when did we have to ask permission to enjoy a long shower, wash our cars, or keep our gardens green?
More recently, Newsom has been at it again when he announced a ban on the sale of all gasoline-fueled cars in California by 2035. No sooner did he proclaim full control over the state’s most widespread, essential, and reliable means of transportation in the name of addressing climate change than his own administration asked current owners of electric vehicles to stop charging their cars and turn up the temperature on their thermostats during a weeklong heat wave, highlighting how ill-prepared California’s grid and its increasing reliance on so-called green power are for a surge in electricity demand. Would anyone have expected the threat of rolling blackouts to occur in the most affluent state in the most prosperous nation on earth?
The COVID pandemic only fueled Newsom’s ambitions to control his citizens with the opportunity to invoke the 1970 California Emergency Services Act, which gave him legal power — reaffirmed by state courts — to modify or make new state laws as long as he declared the pandemic to be an emergency. With this authority, Newsom decided to take away children’s right to an in-person public education (while his own kids attended private school in person), or to see their friends and teachers’ faces once they finally did return to school, closed beaches and state parks (which incidentally have the best ventilation and most opportunities to socially distance), shut down outdoor playgrounds (leading to a dramatic weight gain among young children), forced the cancellation of thousands of “elective” surgeries (many of which were for urgent issues like eyesight or fertility, and which could not afford to be postponed), and caused Christmas carolers to celebrate under threat of arrest.
Perhaps most shockingly of all, Newsom’s blanket stay-at-home order led to the dramatic arrest of a solo stand-up paddle-boarder off the coast of Malibu. This is only a partial list of the rights that Newsom arbitrarily took away, at great human cost, in the name of COVID protection.
But when it comes to the practice of medicine in California, in particular the sacred trust between patients and physicians when holding confidential informed consent discussions regarding medical treatment options, the worse may be yet to come. At any moment, in the face of a recent proclamation by President Biden that the pandemic is “over”, Newsom may sign into law California Assembly Bill (AB) 2098, a devastating, unconstitutional bill already passed by both the massive state Senate and Assembly democratic majorities. AB2098 would suspend or revoke the medical license of any physician who is believed by the state’s medical board to be spreading “COVID misinformation.” The medical board, a politically appointed body, is led by a partner at a litigation law firm who has no medical experience.
The text of AB2098 justifies its need by stating: “The spread of misinformation and disinformation about COVID vaccines has weakened public confidence and placed lives at serious risk.” Is this the same misinformation from some physicians that questioned the President’s now disproven assertion that “you’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations” that caused them to lose their social media profiles? So where did Newsom and his legislators get their information that physicians are the most dangerous and prolific purveyors of COVID “misinformation”?
Thankfully, they noted it for us in AB2098: “Major news outlets have reported that some of the most dangerous propagators of inaccurate information regarding the COVID vaccines are licensed health care professionals.” Newsom is admittedly relying on the mainstream, legacy media as its source for the rationale to create a law that would silence or end the careers of physicians. Let that sink in for a moment.
And just in case there was any doubt over the definition of “misinformation,” AB2098 kindly provides that for us as well: “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” Newsom isn’t relying on published, peer-reviewed medical facts from reputable scientific journals to determine what is truth, but rather on an arbitrary notion of “contemporary scientific consensus” which in plain English means whatever his people currently believe to be the truth.
It is obvious where this is going, and we know from history that it won’t lead to anything good. Our earliest example of real scientists being punished by authorities for publishing “misinformation” that violates “contemporary scientific consensus” is from 1633, when the Catholic Church convicted of astronomer Galileo Galilei of heresy for teaching that the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around as the Church had taught, and sentenced him to house arrest for the remainder of his life. It took 300 years for this decision to be retracted.
Unfortunately for Newsom, today we have something called the Constitution and it protects free and truthful (the kind that can be proven in court) speech. If Newsom dares to sign AB2098, it will extort, silence, and/or punish good, honest physicians who practice evidence-based medicine and understand that informed consent and patient autonomy only arise from an open, thorough discussion of the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives to any treatment. That includes having a conversation about each individual’s need for any treatment (including a vaccination), their unique risks and risk tolerance, the potential benefits to them, and alternatives, which always include no treatment at all.
Does Newsom realize that he’s about to codify arbitrary, politically-driven medical censorship into law and guarantee further erosion of patients’ trust in physicians, a deepening of our state’s already-severe physician shortage, a losing battle in the courts, and an even greater degree of national embarrassment for himself and his party? He has already lost one battle at the Supreme Court after shutting down churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship, so what is another loss to him in the grand scheme of things?
With Newsom’s obvious national ambitions, the entire nation is now watching him. Perhaps he should seriously consider a veto of AB2098, as he recently did with the poorly conceived bill that would have established a statewide chain of safe injection sites for illegal, deadly narcotics. And if he wants an out, he can simply parrot Biden’s recent comments and say it’s no longer necessary.
Houman David Hemmati, M.D., Ph.D. is a board-certified ophthalmologist and biomedical research scientist in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Hemmati earned a BS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, an MD from UCLA School of Medicine, and a PhD from Caltech, and completed an internship in Internal Medicine at Stanford Hospital, an ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a postdoctoral research fellowship in chemical engineering at MIT, and a clinical fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He has co-founded and helps run two pharmaceutical companies developing treatments for eye diseases like macular degeneration, and has published extensively in the areas of stem cell research and blinding eye diseases. You can follow him on Twitter: @houmanhemmati
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.