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Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
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Kathryn Serkes
[email protected]


Florida Bill Threatens Civil Liberties,
Gives Unprecedented Power to Unelected Officials

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) today urged Gov. Bush to veto SB 1262, a bill that gives the State Public Health Officer powers to declare a public health emergency and to order forced drugging and treatment under the guise of responding to terrorism.

In a letter sent to the Governor, Jane M. Orient, Executive Director, writes:

"AAPS is totally opposed to SB 1262…imposing medical treatments on unwilling citizens at gunpoint, or with threats of taking children from their parents, or with other coercive measures - obliterating informed consent and due process of law. Medical consequences…could be disastrous.

"This bill gives the State Health Officer the sole, unbridled power to issue a public health advisory and 'take any action appropriate to enforce any public health advisory,' without oversight or accountability…The Legislature has abdicated its authority with respect to the alleged emergency altogether."

AAPS first sounded the alarm about these types of bills last December, gathering thousands of signatures on a letter of opposition to President Bush.. The Model State Emergency Powers Act (MEPHA) was drafted by the CDC and promoted to the states by the Department of HHS -- with promises of federal dollars for new programs, and threats of withholding funding for current ones.

The bills are so alarming that many legislators in other states are publicly opposing them, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation's largest bipartisan, individual membership organization of state legislators. "We must take a much more deliberative approach in crafting effective policy without sacrificing the rights and liberties of individuals and families," ALEC's Director of the Health and Services told AAPS.

The letter to Gov. Bush continues:

"The Florida legislation is even more frightening. It bypasses the ballot box altogether, giving life and death powers to an unelected bureaucrat…it is highly dangerous to entrust any human being with unlimited power.

"The State Health Officer could use 'any means necessary' to force vaccination or treatment on unwilling citizens, if 'there is no practical method to quarantine' such individuals, and 'if the individual poses a danger to the public health.' The degree of force, the assessment of what is 'practical,' and the definition of 'danger to public health' are all at the sole discretion of this Officer."

AAPS is also concerned that these powers could be used to invalidate all vaccine exemptions - including religious and medical -- that are now legal choices for parents who choose not to subject their children to dozens of immunizations required under blanket vaccine mandates for school attendance.

Dr. Orient raises medical issues that the legislation fails to take into account, including:

  1. The bill fails to mention smallpox by name, even though it is the only contagious disease that is a credible biological warfare threat and for which a reasonably effective vaccine exists. "In an outbreak of measles or whooping cough, with several dozen cases, is an unvaccinated child a 'danger to public health'?"

  2. There are many scientifically valid arguments against mass smallpox immunization campaigns -- serious adverse effects, including death.

  3. The strain of smallpox used by terrorists may be vaccine resistant. "Thus, an entire population could be subjected to the dangers of mass vaccination while reaping no benefit at all."
Dr. Orient urges Gov. Bush to veto the bill and demand that forced vaccination and treatment be removed from it. "Moreover, no unelected official should be permitted to declare a public health emergency, nor should such a state of emergency continue without ratification by the state legislature as soon as it can be called into session," concludes Dr.Orient.

AAPS, a national non-partisan, dues-supported professional association of physicians dedicated since 1943 to protecting the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship, opposes government-ordered vaccine mandates. While many vaccines are extremely useful and have saved many lives, patients and physicians should be free to determine the best course of treatment for an individual.