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Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 1999 /10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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Don't doctor the law -- THE MEDICAL LOBBY thinks it has all the right cures for the body politic. Here at an annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors hawked cough syrup, baby diapers, legislative pills, and jumbo government band-aids.

The AAP prides itself on being a "progressive" group. Try patronizing and meddlesome. The organization's mission is not merely to advance the best health interests of pediatricians and their young patients, but to advocate aggressively for legal and policy changes that reach "beyond private practices, hospitals, classrooms and laboratories." That means reaching far and deep into the chambers of Congress, courtrooms, school districts, private homes, and yes, into the pockets of taxpayers.

In his speech to AAP members last week, President Clinton joked that "all the politicians here have a lot in common with doctors. We all want to prescribe medicine, and no one wants to take it." Haw-haw-haw. The audience had a hearty laugh, but a closer look at the AAP agenda is sobering. What we have here are aspiring executors of the Nanny State:

-- The All-Terrain Vehicle Regulation Act. Not content to leave the regulation of these recreational fun machines to individuals and states, the pediatricians' group wants a wholesale ban on three-wheeled ATVs, vehicle registration and insurance requirements, and a prohibition on operation of ATVs by anyone under 16 years of age.

-- The Graduated Drivers' Licensing Act. Unwilling to trust the good judgment of parents, driving instructors, and 50 state motor vehicle bureaucracies, the AAP proposes a nationalized licensing to expose teens "to more favorable conditions under which they can develop good driving accordance with the development of their experience, judgment, and driving record."

-- The Personal Flotation Device Act. Peddling an unenforceable mandate that would substitute federal authority for common sense, the doctors' lobby would require every person under the age of 18 to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device while on a vessel under 24 feet in length.

-- The Swimming Pool Safety Act. Without providing evidence that this intervention would significantly reduce accidental deaths and injuries, the AAP proposes overriding the discretion of municipalities and homeowners by requiring all private pool owners to erect enclosures around their swimming pools.

-- Doctors first, parents later. The organization lobbies for increased family planning funding and "youth development" programs in public schools. It opposes parental consent laws for abortion and supports efforts to secure "confidentiality in adolescent health care."

-- Gun control. The AAP supports a nationwide ban on handguns, air guns and assault weapons. The group has also proposed regulation of handgun ammunition and product liability actions - that is, taxation through litigation. The group cites reams of alarming statistics, but Dr. Miguel Faria, a Georgia neurosurgeon and former medical journal editor, notes: "Medical costs saved by guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are 15 times greater than costs incurred by criminal uses of firearms."

"Instead of providing a balanced and fair approach seeking truth and objectivity," Faria says, "the medical literature echoes the emotionalism and rhetoric of the mass media." Millions of tax dollars fuel hysteria by funding biased gun-control research at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control division of the Centers for Disease Control.

-- Cultural policing. The AAP pushed the Children's Television Act of 1990, which mandates three hours of educational programming for children per week. The group also endorses government schemes for content-based TV ratings.

While this doctors' association may not care much for freedom, it is all for getting things free. Among its top legislative issues in Congress are the Children's Hospital bill (which would increase federal subsidies for graduate medical education through Medicare) and the Improved Maternal and Children's Health Improvement Act (which would replace current Medicaid and state health insurance programs with a mandatory national program that has no income requirements).

Every insurance plan in this universal coverage scheme would, naturally, be required to meet the AAP's benefit standards.

The public arena is full of irksome nosybodys, but be most wary of the ones with white coats and tongue depressors. Kiddie docs are accustomed to coercion. It's a professional mandate. How else to get a squirming patient to sit still and swallow his medicine? Force-feeding is a fine approach for two-year-olds. It is not, however, the way to run a society founded on personal and economic liberty.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate