The Laborer's Hire

A contrivance that is quite popular with those physicians who are unwilling to accept the natural law of demand and supply, but insist on an artificial advantage, is a bill that is framed so as to give medical doctors the sole right or exclusive privilege of receiving compensation for services. An instance of this is found in the present law of an American state, which reads as follows: "Any person is regarded as practising medicine who in any manner holds himself out to the public as being engaged in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases or injuries or deformities of human beings, or who suggests, recommends, or prescribes any form of treatment for the intended palliation, relief, or cure of any physical or mental ailment of any person, with the intention of receiving therefor, either directly or indirectly, any fee, gift, or compensation."

From a close reading of this spurious definition one can see that all of it depends on the last clause. It means, in short, that any person is to be regarded as practising medicine who does this or that "with the intention of receiving therefor, either directly or indirectly, any fee, gift, or compensation." To illustrate: If a clergyman should deem it his official duty (for which he is paid) to pray for the recovery of a parishioner, or to recommend something else for "palliation, relief, or cure," he would be forbidden by this law to do either. Of course, the instigators of this law did not expect to use it against every one who might violate it. There is only one religion whose ministers have done enough healing in recent centuries to attract the attention of the medical profession.

It is impossible to forbid Christian Scientists to practise healing, or to practise healing for compensation, without thereby abridging the rights of all other persons to employ them. Take, for illustration, the case of a man whom medical doctors have pronounced incurable and whom Christian Science might cure, as it has cured many such cases. A very large number of the members of Christian Science churches are living witnesses to this fact. If the law provides that none but medical doctors may practise healing for compensation, it will thereby forbid the man whom they cannot heal from employing a practitioner of a method which has cured a great many such cases and might cure him. He can only obtain the services of such practitioner by asking it as a gratuitous favor or by soliciting him to commit a crime.

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June 27, 1914

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