Peninsula Views: Devil's Head Diary

Practicing Without A License


Practicing medicine requires training and certification. Few legislators are qualified, so can they be held liable for practicing medicine without a license?

Since June 2022, 24 states including my home state of Texas (the “Friendship” state!) have restricted healthcare access for women. Some even include penalties for women who leave their home state to obtain medical care elsewhere or want medicine by mail. Other laws have targeted sexual minorities, forbidding treatment needed by transgender teens and even adults.

How, I wonder, are such laws to be enforced in our democratic republic? Sure, in Russia or Iran, or the Free State of Florida, it would be easy. But do we know how to do that kind of thing in America?

One convenient way might be to require all females capable of having a child to submit to a pregnancy test before leaving their state. (They sometimes do this in certain wealthy Persian Gulf countries already, so we can learn from them!) All females testing pregnant at pre-departure would be re-tested upon re-entry to catch all previously pregnant individuals who return unpregnant and without a newborn. Thus, when needed, the state will have factual evidence that will stand up in court when these women are prosecuted.

Same goes for transgender care. Routine hormone harvesting while traveling and a strip search on exit and re-entry will tell the state all it needs to know to protect transitioning children from their parents, or adults from themselves. And of course, our youth sports teams will be safe from anyone silly enough to sacrifice their identity or very existence to gain a competitive edge at track meets.

While we’re at it, since we’re searching baggage already we can confiscate any children’s or young adult books that might fall into the wrong hands, like children or young adults.

Limiting surveillance to airports makes sense since screening is already part and parcel of air travel. Of course, the state would still be vulnerable to anyone seeking health care by crossing state lines, but the cost of installing testing stations at bus and train depots and at every road leading elsewhere would be a prohibitive drain on the public coffers. There would be no money left for picking up vulnerable immigrants in Texas to fly or bus to other states without warning.

If doctors practice medicine and lawyers practice law, why don’t legislators practice legislating? At least 24 state legislatures, by my count, are in need of serious rehearsal before going live. Can their educations have been that poor? Did they not read any of the books they’re banning?

Perhaps it’s all my fault.

Not only am I a Texan, I am also a teacher. Or at least I was before retiring some decades ago.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have retired. Or perhaps I shouldn’t have “taught.” Perhaps I should have been “practicing education.” If I’d put it that way, maybe the pay would’ve been better, or maybe I would’ve been taken more seriously.

Teachers teach readin’, writin’ an’ ’rithmetic, and along the way citizenship, fairness, cooperation, critical thinking and problem-solving. Teachers encourage children to ask questions, giving them the keys to unlock all the information needed to satisfy their curiosity about the world.

Hmm. Maybe that’s the problem?

Some undereducated legislatures seem to have a “school” of thought that seeks to discourage curiosity and limit inclusive thinking. They want to keep the keys to themselves, but why?

The stated concern is that knowledge of systemic biases, institutionalized social inequities and bigotry might make children “feel bad.” Little thought seems to be given to the fact that the treatment of nonwhite and sexual minorities in America may have made other children not just “feel bad,” but made them targets of bullying and discrimination, and untimely death.

For one easy example, it’s just a plain, simple, Texas-sized fact that our revered Founding Fathers believed slavery was acceptable or at least tolerable because it was a foundation of economic growth in large swaths of our then-young country. What would children think if they learned that 17 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention were slave owners, 11 of the 39 signers of the Constitution were slave owners, and eight of the first 12 presidents of the United States were slave owners?

Maybe they would learn to “think?” And then maybe do something about it?

Institutional injustice is at the very heart of our Constitution. Children have chipped away at it over generations, battling prejudice, inequality — even the Confederacy — and now “originalists” who challenge any law that doesn’t have its roots in 18th century America, or at least doesn’t suit their bottom line or whatever direction their moral compass is pointing at the moment.

But it doesn’t mean we have to throw it all away. And it certainly doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to our past. We could always use those keys ourselves. Maybe with a little practice.

Award-winning columnist Carolyn Wiley lives quietly, for the most part, in Longbranch.