Gregor Mendel, Ignaz Semmelweis, Ludwig Boltzmann…what do these three scientists have in common? The science community shunned them because they thought they were wrong…turns out they were right! You see, freedom of speech is something I believe greatly in, provided it isn’t hateful. Yet, I’ve been unsure whether or not medical professionals should exercise that right given their influence on the world. Then 2020 happened and it got me thinking…there’s actually real benefit to freedom of speech, possibly from medics most of all. I want to see open challenges and discussions and as a medic be forced to ponder, and as a patient be forced to make an informed choice. I’m in greater agreement that personal opinions should be claimed as such, but beyond that; no limits on speech please.
Absolutely not. Medical practitioners hold immense authority within society having a myriad of opinions within the field is essential for public trust and information. Unfortunately right now there seems to be little room for dissenting opinion within medicine without either sides being accused/labeled as “unscientific.” Science in its nature is a study which requires questioning and investigation. Any limits on medical researchers and practitioners’ ability to question and report findings would lead to dangerous censorship. With the influence of pharmaceutical companies in medicine, it is incredibly important to have unbiased, uncorrupted voices from across the ideological landscape within medicine to have a seat at the table to discuss and educate the public.
Yes, medical professionals need to remain unbiased on certain matters and sometimes it isn’t appropriate to share your views with patients and members of the public. So that people can make decisions with regards to their care without coercion, EG topics around abortion. Many medical professionals may be against abortion but in certain circumstances their “freedom of speech” isn’t particularly valuable or relevant at that moment of time. Medics have a duty to provide the care and that’s that. For example, I may personally be against abortion and have been presented with a women who is pregnant through rape. If I start highlighting why I think abortion is wrong at that particular moment in time, my opinion isn’t relevant and she may not feel comfortable in being completely transparent on her future plans. As medical professions we have a duty of care and sometimes it’s best to do your job and keep it stepping.