Health Freedom is your fundamental human right of self-determination and self-protection. What is the Health Freedom Amendment? Simply put, it assures your right to decide for yourself how to treat and protect your own health.
As an American, do you have health freedom? It’s a natural human right, but it isn’t in the Bill of Rights or any other amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments recognize rights not enumerated in the Constitution, and U.S. courts have recognized other unlisted rights, like the right to privacy, or the right to be left alone. But since they haven’t yet recognized health freedom, we propose a new constitutional amendment to make clear where “We the People” stand. What would that look like? Here is one proposal:
Health autonomy is a fundamental human right. The right of the people to give, receive, refuse, or share health care, treatments, and information, freely or for consideration, for themselves, their families, or consenting others, by such means as they may choose, shall not be infringed.
Why wasn’t health freedom included in the Bill of Rights? Probably because that document listed rights that the British had repeatedly violated in America—they were top of mind. When the Constitution was adopted in 1789, health care was tightly intertwined with religious tradition. England had fought a long and bloody civil war to replace the Roman Catholic church with the Anglican Church in England and the Calvinist church in Scotland. Religious wars in Ireland persisted well into the twentieth century. The various established Churches had condemned herbalists, especially midwives, and other female practitioners, as heretics or witches. Catholics, jews, puritans, Quakers, and other religious dissenters were persecuted and even put to death for following their own health codes. So, to colonial Americans, health care was just another aspect of religious freedom.
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” American colonists would have thought this language prohibited interference in health care too; but as medicine separated itself from religion during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, people came to believe (without discussion or debate) that medicine was different from religion and speech, and that it could and should be regulated.
But should it? Medicine and religion still have a lot in common:
- What we know about medicine is far outweighed by what we don’t. Science still can’t even identify the cosmic life force that separates living from dead matter.
- Conventional medicine operates on the assumption that all human bodies are more or less the same, so we can apply the same “standard of care” and expect a given result: “one disease, one target, one drug” is the mainstream drug model. This idea is obsolete and demonstrably false.
- Individuals differ widely in genetics, epigenetics, environment, history, habit, microbiome, goals, and preferences. What works for one person’s condition and situation is not guaranteed to work for anyone else, let alone everyone else. People can and should determine their individual health goals and choices, and should have many available options to choose from.
- Intellectual humility and the Golden Rule, at a minimum, should advise us not to impose our own opinions and preferences on others by force of law, no matter how scientific or correct we think our views are.
Jefferson on Religious and Health Freedom
Thomas Jefferson was our most scientific President, serving as President of the American Philosophical Society (the premier scientific body of the day) during his entire presidency, and for many years both before and after it. During the height of the American Revolution (1781), he wrote a scientific treatise on the geography, flora, fauna, demographics, politics, and economy of his home state entitled Notes on the State of Virginia. In Query 17: “Religion”, he traced the history of religious persecution in England and the colonies, including Virginia. In that chapter, he famously said:
“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
Jefferson observed that the States (New York and Pennsylvania) with a history of religious tolerance also had the best economies—religious freedom brought diverse people and ideas together, spurring critical thinking, tolerance, innovation, and commerce. After describing the negative effects of legally established religion and resulting persecution in Virginia, he made a frightening prediction about the potential for political oppression:
“Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such care as our souls are now.”
Jefferson argued further that differing religious ideas were essential, holding each other accountable in the marketplace of ideas: “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.” This argument is true of medical ideas too.
Jefferson’s arguments against the establishment of religion, and in favor of religious tolerance and freedom, all apply with equal force to health care. Government support (whether of religion or medicine) creates orthodoxy, spawns persecution, creates complacency, has a chilling effect on debate and innovation, and taxpayers bear the cost, regardless of their own views and preferences. Recent debate and censorship over medical “disinformation” show that Jefferson was right to favor robust free speech over orthodoxy, especially when lucrative government contracts and approvals are concerned.
Today, religious and health freedom is once again under attack, by zealots of both left and right. Progressives (strangely) want to force vaccination, treatment, and masks; censor free speech about them, and compel compliance with their social and medical agenda. Conservatives (even more strangely) want State lawmakers to ban abortion—the most soul-wrenching and personal medical decision that prospective parents can face. Both sides seek to inflict their religious and world views on others; but the authoritarianism and intolerance on both sides echoes the religious wars that inspired Jefferson’s analysis. Jefferson argued for liberty, and the right of each person to follow his own conscience, without coercion or compulsion.
Health Freedom Principles
Health Freedom (not to be confused with “free healthcare”) should be the rule in any free nation, not the exception. Here’s why:
- Health Freedom means free choice for you and your family. People prefer to make their own decisions about health options, choices, and practices, rather than having these decisions made for them by others, even their own experts.
- Health Freedom is only helpful if the care we want is both legal and affordable. Health Freedom for patients and consumers requires similar freedom for physicians, midwives, chiropractors, herbalists, faith healers, or others to willingly supply that care at reasonable prices, without interference or regulation by others.
- Health Freedom doesn’t compel action by others. If a doctor doesn’t believe that a treatment or procedure will benefit a particular case, that doctor has no obligation to provide it. But they also can’t prevent others from voluntarily providing it.
- Health Freedom doesn’t affect payment options now in place, except by allowing and encouraging competition. It wouldn’t affect Medicare, Medicaid, or Obamacare, except by allowing cheaper alternative options.
- If others choose differently from us, is it really any of our business? Would we sacrifice our own freedom, in order to force our collective will on others? If we did, could we still call ourselves a free people?
Deregulation of medicine is hardly a new idea. In Chapter 9 of his book “Capitalism and Freedom” (1961), Nobel Prize economist Milton Friedman suggests eliminating all medical registration, certification, and licensing. He suggests that private certifications (like diplomas and medical society memberships) are as effective as a licensing exam and less expensive to obtain and maintain, both for doctors, patients, and taxpayers. Doctors need freedom to practice and innovate, without fear of political interference by other physicians, medical boards, or federal agencies.
Opponents will argue (they already do) that unscrupulous people will promote dangerous products to unsuspecting consumers, causing fraud, injury, and death. Yes, these things will undoubtedly happen. They happen now, whether the culprits be two-bit fraudsters, international drug cartels, or multinational drug companies. Sadly, you can’t regulate morals into people, but you can regulate them out. Bad people will always do bad things. But with Health Freedom, they couldn’t do them at scale, with political and economic impunity, through government graft, dark money, endorsements, subsidies, or approvals; and they wouldn’t be able to charge monopoly prices because all other solutions are illegal. Is our current medical system safe, effective, and widely affordable? If not, maybe we should re-examine our assumptions.
There’s plenty of corruption in religion, but without the First Amendment, it isn’t clear that we’d be any better off if we created a Federal God Agency to regulate snake-handling church congregations. We’d have Federal rattlesnake inspectors and compliance audits for fang length and cage conditions, and we’d be paying even more taxes, but people would still believe and do what they want.
Where crimes do occur, they must be consistently and fairly prosecuted, even in religion or medicine. Fraud, injury, and death were all punished by prosecutors and courts long before the Food and Drug Act of 1906, and with better effect. Today, we also have a busy plaintiffs’ bar and class action lawsuits to help solve these problems—we don’t need public regulators, too.
Others will argue that regulation creates jobs. This old myth has been in circulation since the New Deal of 1933. Yes, regulation creates jobs—but not wealth. One might also argue that vandals who break store windows create jobs, since someone has to clean up all the mess and replace the broken panes, but we’re no better off because of those jobs. We arrive at the same outcome, but vandalism increases cost and waste. Ineffective regulation is just as bad.
Imagine, if you will, a world where Health Freedom is widely valued and protected. In this world, the only limits to your health options are your own wisdom and resources; those of the wide range of practitioners and scientists around you; and the natural principle of not causing injury to others (but not just speculative risk). Health options are cheaper, better, more widely available, and innovation happens faster. Respect for personal autonomy, differences, and choices will lead to a better and brighter world than what we have today. We gladly invite you to join us in shaping this new reality!