Thursday, March 19, 2015

Action Alert: Protect Doctors' Right To Promote Public Health Through Gun Safety

If you take your kid to well checks at the doctor's office, you know that they ask you if you have a firearm in your home.  If you do, they talk to you about how to store it safely when kids are around.  They also ask you if anyone smokes in your home, about your child's fruit and vegetable consumption, your child's exercise habits, if your child is properly restrained in her car seat/booster seat/safety belt in the car and if she wears a helmet when riding a bicycle, among other things.  Addressing issues that impact the health and safety of children is part of a pediatrician's job.  A bill filed by Representative Spritzer of Kaufman would change that, though.  HB 2823 would forbid doctors from asking about guns in the home out of fear that it would give the federal government a record of who has them (um, you don't really have to answer any question your doctor asks if you don't want to, people), and would empower the Texas Medical Board to punish physicians who ask about guns, as practicing bad medicine.  Frighteningly, a similar bill has already passed and been upheld in Florida.

The bill still allows psychiatrists to ask, as it tries to frame the issue as a mental health one, but - totally setting aside the fact that more mental health issues present in the offices of primary care doctors and in emergency rooms than ever go to a psychiatrist - suicide concerns are not really the point of doctors asking that question - public health and safety is the point.  Particularly of children, who are often killed because of their parents' inappropriate storage of firearms.

One more example of Republicans interfering in the practice of medicine with dangerous consequences for women and children.

Please call your State Representative and ask them to vote against HB 2823, Mamas. 

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