The AMA Conspiracy Against Chiropractic
The medical profession has a long history of opposing alternative healing professions. While always claiming public safety as its reasons for the attacks, the true reasons involve protecting their monopoly of the health care market.
In the past, medicine has fought battles to limit the practices of such professionals as homeopaths, naturopaths, osteopaths, podiatrists, optometrists, dentists, psychologists and chiropractors. In the case of osteopathy and chiropractic, there are distinct differences in the approach to healing and health when compared to medicine. The last thing that organized medicine wants is for their doctrine of drugs and surgery to be challenged.
Osteopaths allowed themselves to be absorbed by medicine--today there is little difference between an M.D. and a D.O. Chiropractic on the other hand, fought hard to be a separate and distinct profession.
Medicines opposition to chiropractic was at its strongest under the leadership of Morris Fishbein. Fishbein as Secretary of the American Medical Association from 1924 to 1949, lead a 50 year anti-chiropractic campaign in both professional publications and the public media. Fishbein called chiropractors "rabid dogs" and referred to them as "playful and cute..but killers." He tried to portray chiropractors as members of an unscientific cult, caring about nothing but taking their patients money.
In 1949 the AMA removed Fishbein but continued its wage in anti-chiropractic campaign. In 1971, H. Doyle Taylor, the Director of the AMA Department of Investigation, and Secretary of its Committee on Quackery (COQ), submitted a memo to the AMA Board of Trustees stating:
Since the AMA Board of Trustees decision, at its , meeting on November 2-3, 1963, to establish a Committee on Quackery, your Committee has considered its prime mission to be, first, the containment of chiropractic and, ultimately, the elimination of chiropractic.
The following is an excerpt form the COQ's first annual report to the Board of the AMA:
...The Involvement (and indoctrination) of the State Medical Society leadership, in our opinion, is vital to the success of the chiropractic program...We hope and believe that, with continued aggressive AMA activity, chiropractic can and will be contained at the national level and that steps are being taken to stop or eliminate the licenser of chiropractic at the state level.
In 1967 the COQ released its anti chiropractic campaign goals:
Basically, the Committee's short-range objectives for containing the cult of chiropractic and any additional recognition it might achieve revolves about four points:
1. Doing everything within our power to see that chiropractic coverage under title 18 of the Medicare Law is not obtained.
2. Doing everything within our power to see that the recognition or listing by the U.S. Office of Education of a chiropractic accrediting agency is not achieved.
3. To encourage contained separation of the two national chiropractic associations.
4. To encourage state medical societies to take the initiative in their state legislatures in regard to legislation that might affect the practice of chiropractic.
The AMA through its Committee on Quackery continued its war against chiropractic through such acts as, distributing propaganda to the nations teachers and guidance councilors, eliminating the inclusion of chiropractic from the U.S Department of Labor's, Health Careers Guidebook, and establishing specific educational guidelines for medical schools regarding the "hazards to individuals form the unscientific cult of chiropractic."
The AMA did not stop with these acts of propaganda against the chiropractic profession. They worked both publicly and politically to insure that chiropractic failed as a profession. But, even with all of this negative publicity against the profession, chiropractic continued to gain acceptance with the general public, because chiropractic got results.
In 1975 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Goldfarb vs. The Virginia State Bar, that learned professions are not exempt form antitrust suites. In 1982 the Court ruled that the FTC can enforce antitrust laws against medical societies. These two suits paved the way in 1976 for five chiropractors to file an anti-trust suite against the AMA and several other heath care agencies and societies in Federal District Court (known as the Wilkes Case).
Similar suits were filed in New York and Pennsylvania in 1979. The pressure of these law suits forced the AMA even before these suits went to court to propose a modification of their Medical Code of Ethics which prohibited M.D.s from associating with chiropractors
But, it was not until 1980 that the Ethics Code was changed to reflect that each individual doctor may decide for themselves whether to accept a patient from or refer a patient to a chiropractor or other limited practitioner.
The law suits caused so much fear in the medical profession that Mike Wallace (of 60 minutes) was unable to find an M.D. to take the anti-chiropractic side for a 1979 documentary piece on chiropractic.
In 1980 the Wilkes suit went to court, where the AMA and other defendants were found not guilty of all charges. That decision was overturned and a new trial was ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals in February 1983.
Judge Susan Getzendanner found the AMA and others guilty of an illegal conspiracy against the chiropractic profession in September of 1987, ordering a permeate injunction against the AMA and forcing them to print the courts findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Several other of the defendants settled out of court helping to pay for the chiropractors legal expenses and donating to a chiropractic non-profit home for disabled children, Kentuckiana Children's Center.
This decision was upheld in the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990 and again by the U.S. Supreme Court that same year.
Even with success of the Wilkes Case and other anti-trust litigation, the AMA continues to this day to wage a campaign against chiropractic. Today the attacks take the form of over-stated concerns for the safety of chiropractic health care. The truth is that chiropractic has proven it self over the last 100 plus years, to be a safe and effective means of maintaining health and treating musculo-skeletal injuries.