Quacks and altmed promoters have made persistent efforts at the state level to achieve legislation either officially endorsing their practices or – more obviously – removing pesky measures that might make them minimally accountable or responsible for providing evidence that the nonsense they peddle is efficacious or at least safe. Naturopaths are particularly persistent (and make no mistake: naturopathy is ridiculous, anti-scientific quackery.
And they have enablers in those state legislatures. In Michigan, for instance, they found a champion in Lisa Posthumus Lyons, the Republican representative for District 86 between 2011 and 2016 and chairperson of the House Education Committee. In 2013, Lyons introduced Michigan House Bill 4152 (2013), which would license naturopathic “physicians” in the state – and it should be noted that the bill was a bipartisan effort, with Ellen Cogen Lipton being the Democratic half. The bill defines “naturopathic medicine” as “a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases,” which is a rather laughable attempt at defining “naturopathy”. (They did not attempt to define “natural”, but presumably just assumed the woo connotation.)
Lyons is also on record congratulating one Kelly Hassberger for opening her new Naturopathic Health Clinic in Grand Rapids; one notes that Hassberger focuses on “homeopathic medicine”, which is hardly surprising given naturopaths’ troubled relationship with facts and evidence, and the nonsense that passes for “accredited” naturopathic “education”. Despite the fact that naturopathy is medieval medicine-inspired, quasi-religious nonsense and naturopathic “education” an unfunny joke, House Bill 4152 would give naturopathic pracitioners wide-ranging authorization to offer nonsense and quackery to patients in difficult situations.
The bill didn’t pass then, but Lyons returned with Bill 4531 in 2015. A good survey of the authorizations in that bill, and the dangerous nonsense Michigan naturopaths actually offer, can be found here. Again she found a bipartisan group of co-sponsors (Andy Schor (D-Lansing), George Darany (D-Dearborn and co-chair of the Committee on Health Policy), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids) and current chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, and Kathy Crawford (R-Novi)). The bill hasn’t been signed into law thus far, but even if it isn’t we expect further, similar efforts down the road.
Diagnosis: A danger to public health, no less. Lyons is an apparently ardent champion of pseudoscience and quackery, and has – or at least had – the power to do real harm to real people.