California medical board attacked by anti-vaccine activists

Civility in American politics has gone the way of the dodo bird, which has led to attacks and intimidation of the Medical Board of California by anti-vaccine crackpots. Because these anti-vaxxers lack any scientific integrity or evidence, they resort to mob tactics in trying to get their way.

This is happening across America, especially with school boards. The cowardly right-wing, emboldened with conspiracy theories and their prominent hatred of science, no longer rely upon the ballot box to get their way, they now try to scare hard-working people, like at state medical boards, to push their nonsense agenda.

Although I’m going to focus on what happened with the Medical Board of California, it’s not going to be unique to the Golden State. As these violent activists learn about what’s being done in California, I’m sure they’ll move on to other states. But for now, I’ll focus on the great state of California.

woman in blue scrub suit standing beside woman in white scrub suit California medical board
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Background

The Medical Board of California is responsible for the “proper licensing and regulation of physicians and surgeons and certain allied health care professionals and through the vigorous, objective enforcement of the Medical Practice Act, and to promote access to quality medical care through the Board’s licensing and regulatory functions.”

For those unfamiliar with the US Federal system, each state is responsible for licensing and regulating physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. However, a lobbying group for state medical boards, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), has been urging its members to discipline physicians spreading COVID-19 and antivaccine misinformation — of course, I have seen much effect from this push.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical boards worked in the background with one overarching goal — to protect patients from quacks and incompetent healthcare workers.

The Medical Board of California has been very tough on anti-vaccine physicians. In fact, Professor Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has written several articles over the past few years describing how the medical board has dealt with physicians who have been anti-vaccine — they receive stiff sanctions from the board.

Of course, in today’s atmosphere of vaccine denial, anti-vaccine forces are using every single tactic to intimidate or even harm anyone who stands in their way. And thus that’s how we get to the story of what is happening now.

Quack group goes after the Medical Board of California

One of the leading COVID-19 and vaccine denier groups, America’s “Frontline” Doctors, has gone on the attack against California and its medical board. According to Prof. Reiss, “America’s Frontline Doctors – a group of people who have not, in spite of the name, served on the COVID-19 frontline, but who appear more as a political lobbying group,  and who have a history of claims without foundation.”

Because Prof. Reiss is just too nice, I’ll be blunter — they are lying liars who lie. They are quacks. They cause harm.

America’s “Frontline” Doctors push debunked nonsense like ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and vaccines. They are an embarrassment to real physicians.

Then last week, this was reported in San Jose’s Mercury News:

The head of the California Medical Board says members of an anti-vaccine group known to spread misinformation about COVID-19 treatments targeted her at her home and workplace in Walnut Creek on Monday. Former Walnut Creek Councilwoman Kristina Lawson, president of the state agency that licenses and disciplines medical doctors, first shared the “terrifying experience” on Twitter Wednesday.

Well, Ms. Lawson, who is the President of the Medical Board of California, apparently isn’t a coward and stepped forward to out the despicable characters behind this.

Ms. Lawson wrote a series of tweets, which you can read here, but below are the key ones:

Let me repeat what she said, just in case you hate Twitter:

I will continue to do this work even when it is hard, and notwithstanding that there is an organized effort to scare me away from it.

And yes, the group identified themselves as members of America’s Frontline Doctors:

The men identified themselves as representatives of America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing medical organization that has been discredited for spreading Coronavirus misinformation like unproven treatments and anti-vaccine statements.

And the Sacramento Bee reported:

Lawson, through a spokesman, told The Sacramento Bee that the men identified themselves as belonging to a group called America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing political organization known to oppose COVID-19 vaccines and offer unproven treatments for those infected with the virus.

Last month, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus launched an investigation into the group for profiting off of questionable and unauthorized COVID-19 treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

Lawson said she later learned, through law enforcement, that the group planned to produce a video about her that would include footage of her house and neighborhood.

She said she decided to go public about what happened to shed light on the “reprehensible, unacceptable tactics of intimidation.”

California Senator and Dr. Richard Pan, who himself has been subject to violent and racist harassment, responded to this attack on Twitter:

The loquacious Orac summed up his opinion on this matter in an article that delves deeper into the history of state medical boards and anti-vaxxers:

I view this latest tactic as a sign that maybe, just maybe, antivaxxers and COVID-19 quacks think that the statement of the FSMB might actually result in state medical boards getting serious about disciplining physicians who spread COVID-19 misinformation. I also view this tactic as a sign that state medical boards are going to be increasingly subject to the same political pressure and even physical threats that public health officials have been enduring since the pandemic started, which makes me fear that oversight over doctors will become less, not more, stringent. I fear that they very well might work, too. After all, most medical board members are underpaid, overworked, and do their jobs mostly out of a sense of duty, even as the boards themselves are understaffed and underfunded. Who could blame them? That’s the idea, unfortunately, and why this war on state medical boards has begun.

Some days, I get depressed by what I see is happening against vaccines, especially the new COVID-19 vaccines. Millions of people have died of this disease, yet the anti-vaxxers couldn’t care less about human life.

But when I read how Kristina Lawson dealt with this situation, I have gotten a new burst of energy. I am going to continue to fight for vaccines, even if I have to write my blog posts from the remains of a post-apocalyptic world.


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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!