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What Can Doctors Ask?

TALLAHASSEE -- In June, state legislators pushed a law through that prevents physicians from inquiring about whether a patient has an unsecured weapon at home. The state, defending the new statute, maintains the law isn't designed to interfere with the responsibilities of doctors and provides a broad interpretation so as to not impede a professional inquiry. They say the law is based on the relevance of the question.

The suit by practitioners opposing the statute believe censorship is interfering with their ability to protect their patients. They believe a patient's lifestyle has a bearing on their professional advice. In cases where there is depression, somnambulism (sleepwalking), or children involved, physicians need open dialog for a methodical examination.

It's a question of free speech and the right to bear arms; the issue is before the Honorable Marcia Cooke in the U.S. District Court. The physicians have petitioned the court for a preliminary injunction and Judge Cooke will make her decision within the next couple of months.

The Law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott, has gained the support of the The National Rifle Association. The Miami Herald reported: Marion Hammer, a Florida NRA  lobbyist stated "We pay doctors to be doctors and give us medical care. Instead they are trying to be social workers and bringing their gun-ban politics into the examining room."

The doctors are represented by attorneys from the Washington-based Bradley Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center's Legal Action Project. If the law remains in place "it could stand as an example of how a powerful industry can simply silence those who are communicating accurate information about the deadly risk of their products ..." Lowery said. "That's what happened in Florida." Reported by News Media Update. 

This complex conflict is sure to get drawn out. Many legal professionals say the law is too broad, too vague, and too open for interpretation. What do you think?


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