The action of the Illinois State Medical Society in adopting...

Edwardsville (Ill.) Intelligencer

The action of the Illinois State Medical Society in adopting a program for securing prohibitive legislation against the practice of Christian Science, as reported in the Intelligencer of recent date, implies that opposition to certain provisions of House bill 582 is in some way reprehensible; that such opposition was confined to Christian Scientists; and further, that the bill merely provides for reporting incipient ophthalmia neonatorum in infants. Its action in opposing "the licensing of Christian Science practitioners" implies that the latter are seeking a license to practise medicine. All of the above implications are incorrect.

Christian Scientists have found the healing of disease through spiritual means, as practised by Jesus and his immediate followers and by the early Christian church, more efficacious and more satisfactory than medicine. Therefore they have no wish to practise medicine or to be licensed to do so. The purpose of bringing up the question of license would appear to be to influence the legislature so to distort the interpretation of the term "practice of medicine," that laws containing that term, and intended to protect the public against the unskilled use of dangerous drugs, can be made to forbid the healing of the sick through Christian Science. It is safe to assume that the legislature will not lend itself to such a program.

As to the Thon bill (House bill 582), it was so sweeping and so drastic, as first introduced, that it invited opposition from many directions, a number of its critics being members of the medical profession. An entirely misleading impression of its character is conveyed by the description given by the medical society that it "provides for the reporting of all cases of ophthalmia neonatorum." If that were all, there would have been no occasion for opposition or amendment, and the bill in spite of the amendments complained of still provides for reporting. The fact is, that far from being a mere provision for reporting, it was an objectionable piece of compulsory legislation, permitting entrance to any home after childbirth and making obligatory the application of medicine to the infant's eyes in case of any redness, regardless of the approval or disapproval of the parent or of the practitioner, medical or otherwise. Refusal to administer the medicine was made punishable by fine. One of the most vigorous opponents of the bill on the floor of the House was a member who is a physician, and other physicians entered objections.

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July 24, 1915

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