PA doctor challenges gas law’s “medical gag rule” in federal court

PA doctor challenges gas law’s “medical gag rule” in federal court by Donald Giliand, July 27, 2012, The Patriot-News
A Luzerne County doctor has challenged Pennsylvania’s recently-passed natural gas law in federal court, claiming its “gag rule” for doctors treating patients affected by fracking fluid violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez is a practicing medical doctor in Dallas, Pa. He is also president of the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition. His lawsuit against Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, Public Utility Commission chairman Robert Powelson and Attorney General Linda Kelley claims that Act 13 of 2012 imposes an unconsititutional “medial gag rule” on him and other doctors who – when treating patients exposed to fracking fluids – would be required to sign confidentiality agreements with gas companies before being able to know the specific chemical components the patients have been exposed to. Rodriguez claims the law abridges his freedom to communicate with his “patients, colleagues, medical researchers and the public regarding the identity and amount of chemicals, and the health hazards they present to the community.” The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he said, “has no legitimate or compelling interest in keeping information on risks to public health and safety confidential.”

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