DeSantis pushes stalled healthcare free speech bill: “There are still more threats to freedom”

by | Mar 3, 2022


Speaking in Panama City alongside newly-confirmed Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Governor Ron DeSantis showcased the ‘Free Speech of Health Care Practitioners’ bill that would protect the first amendment rights of health care workers and practitioners.

The House bill, currently stuck in committee hearings and at risk of dying in the legislature, would prohibit medical institutions or regulatory bodies from prohibiting or reprimanding medical doctors through the revocation of a license or credential for “exercising his or her constitutional right of free speech, including speech through the use of a social media platform.”

The measure was composed following a series of threats from medical societies and associations to bar doctors who they deemed to have promoted misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

“This is something that is really significant in terms of the practice of medicine… if you’re going to punish people for pursuing the truth,” said DeSantis. “They’ve moved [the bill] along, it’s not quite at the finish line, but we’re here to say let’s get it across the finish line. We want doctors to be able to practice medicine and not just genuflect to what may come out of some of these agencies.”

DeSantis received support from Ladapo, who once again touted the state’s response to COVID-19. The Surgeon General has received criticism from opponents statewide over his rejection of mask mandates, though he doubled down on his past stances,  claiming that the truth was “at stake with this bill.”

“It would be one thing if, when you were proven right, people would acknowledge it … These are hard to find in Florida… People across the political spectrum, including doctors, think these things are saving lives,” said Ladapo, holding a face mask. “These are not saving lives.”

DeSantis and Ladapo in late January announced significant changes to Florida’s COVID-19 guidance including pushing back on corporate masking, reducing isolation for all Floridians including those in schools and daycares, and recommending that physicians should exercise their individual clinical judgment and expertise based on their patients’ needs and preferences.

“People want to live freely in Florida, without corporate masking creating a two-tier society and without overbearing isolation for children,” said DeSantis. “We are empowering health care practitioners to follow science, not Fauci’s status quo.”
DeSantis’ latest bout of controversy reared its head on Wednesday when he was lambasted by Democrat opponents for quipping to a group of high school students that they should remove their face masks prior to his press conference at the University of South Florida.
The outburst drew national attention from pundits at national publications like CNN, The Daily Beast, and NBC News.
The governor, however, has gone on the offensive, springboarding a new campaign advertisement using the footage while highlighting the lack of mask enforcement at the State of The Union speech on Tuesday, proclaiming “End the covid theater!”


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