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2012 John Tooker Evergreen Award Winner

The Florida Chapter received a
2012 Evergreen Award
for the following program:

Opposition to Unconstitutional Impingement on Physician Free Speech

Legislation was proposed in the 2011 Florida Legislative Session that, in its original form, would have prohibited any physician, under any circumstances, from asking a patient if they or any member of their household owned a firearm. The penalty for violation of the law was to be a $5,000,000 fine and a felony conviction, which automatically would have resulted in the revocation of the offending physician’s medical license. The Florida Chapter vigorously opposed the legislation (HB 155 and SB 432) because it impinged upon a physician’s First Amendment Right to Free Speech and was an intrusion on the physician-patient relationship. The Chapter and its weekly Tallahassee delegation lobbied against the bill, its representatives testified against it, its Voter Voice program resulted in hundreds of messages to legislators, and ultimately the bill was amended to allow physicians to ask such questions, but not to harass patients. The criminal penalties and fines were also eliminated. Upon the bill being signed into the law, the Chapter teamed with the Florida Academy of Family Physicians and others to have the law declared unconstitutional by a federal court. The Court has preliminarily enjoined the law, which therefore cannot be enforced, and has indicated that the law is, indeed, an unconstitutional impingement of free speech. The Florida Chapter received enormous support from the press, public, and its own membership for having taken such a principled stand against government intrusion into the physician-patient relationship.

Read about other previous Evergreen Awards your chapter has received: