Psychiatric Views on the Daily News - Episode 107

When Do Politicians Go Beyond Legal Policy to Practice Medicine?

Legislators are actively doing harm to the practice of medicine.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

In the 1960s, Alabama was known as one of the states most resistant to Civil Rights, thereby causing physical and psychological racial harm. Now, about 60 years later, it may become known for its resistance to transgender rights, thereby increasing their mental stress and suicide risk.

One can interpret that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is seemingly practicing medicine without a license for the whole state. Last Thursday, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill banning gender-affirming medications for transgender youth, and on Friday Gov. Ivey signed it into law. It could put doctors into prison for 10 years if they prescribe puberty blockers or hormonal treatment to transgender children under the age of 19.

In another recent column, I discussed the attempt by another Republican Governor, Greg Abbott of Texas, who ordered the State’s child welfare agency to investigate whether gender-confirming care for children was abuse. A law was passed in Arkansas banning gender-affirming medications. Fortunately, both of those attempts were blocked by another court, as is hoped for in Alabama.

Many medical experts and activists have protested these attempts. One of them is the American Academy of Pediatrics, but I have not yet seen my American Psychiatric Association do the same for this newest medical threat. And there are other political threats to the practice of medicine, including prohibiting abortion and deviating from an authorized set of beliefs about COVID-19 in speaking to the public. All of these may be harbingers of a greater threat to practicing medicine than even for-profit managed care. We remain silent at our own risk.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.