An Anti-Healers' Bill Fails

In California a doctors' bill to prevent Christian Science healing, very like the Bell Bill in this state, was introduced in the legislature, and a desperate contest resulted. There, as here, physicians constituted the only element urging such legislation, and as they have a direct pecuniary interest in suppressing competition, they were at a disadvantage at the hearings. Many people gladly testified before the committee that they had been healed by Christian Science, and some of the leading lawyers in the state actively opposed the measure on the ground that it contemplated a medical monopoly, abridged the rights of citizens, and was against public policy. The fact that outside of the doctors nobody was asking for such a law, while many members in all classes of society were strenuously protesting against it, was prominently set forth. Its unconstitutionality was also alleged on the same grounds so ably presented by Judge Lincoln in this state. As a result, the Christian Scientists won a complete triumph, and every feature of the bill offensive to them was eliminated. The ignominious failure of the measure in California will undoubtedly have a strong influence in other states where the same sort of legislation has been sought under similar auspices and pretexts.

In this state the Bell Bill is likely to fail, as its authors have consented to so many amendments that its real animus is disclosed. As it stands to-day, however, it strikes many interests aside from the Christian Scientists. Under its provisions, physical culture in Y. M. C. A. gymnasiums would have to be suspended, and Sisters of Mercy in the Catholic church might be subjected to fine and imprisonment under the law if they should continue their ministrations. As a matter of fact, under the provisions of such a law as proposed, Jesus would have been a criminal for healing cases of lameness, leprosy, and blindness. Indeed, Dr. Morris of Brooklyn, one of the strongest advocates of the bill at the hearing, denied that Jesus had ever actually cured cases such as were reported by the New Testament, and ridiculed the methods specifically recommended by that book, such as prayer, faith, and the laying on of hands. The sensation produced by his statements showed that he went too far to aid the object he is seeking to accomplish.

No profession is more favored by law today than the medical, and in asking for still more special legislation in its own pecuniary behalf, the popular feeling is that it is going altogether too far. And the best physicians feel so themselves; they are willing to meet competition on their merits, and are only conspicuous at these Albany hearings by their absence. The Christian Scientists claim that it is their remarkable successes, and not their failures, that are stimulating disaffected doctors to hostile action, and point to the number, culture, wealth, and intelligence of their adherents as indubitable proof of their efficacy.

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Mark Twain on Osteopathy
March 7, 1901

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