→Osteopaths lobby legislatures for protection from prosecution
====Osteopaths lobby legislatures for protection from prosecution====
Since the courts were deadlocked over the issue of Osteopathy, Osteopaths quickly realized that the only way to ensure the survival of their medical specialty was to lobby for their own licensing laws. While a majority of courts exempted Osteopaths from licensing laws, Osteopaths wanted their practice to not only be legal throughout the country but legitimate. Like Regulars and Irregulars, Osteopaths quickly organized themselves in medical societies and created research journals. Aside from giving Osteopaths a sheen of respectability, the infrastructure gave Osteopaths a way to wage a concerted campaign to secure licensing. Between 1897 and 1901, fifteen states passed separate licensing laws for Osteopaths. Unsurprisingly, most of these states were in the Midwest, but New York, California, and Connecticut also passed laws favoring Osteopaths.
These new laws were not ideal. In order to secure medical licensing, Osteopaths lobbied in favor of laws that were not always particularly beneficial to them. They struggled to get traction in state legislatures because Osteopaths were hampered by their small numbers, the relative youth of the specialty, disorganized campaigns, and lack of agreement among themselves about the type of laws that were most appropriate. In many states, efforts to secure legislation flamed out. In the states where Osteopaths secured licensing, they often were placed at the mercy of licensing boards that they did not have any representation on.
One of these states was Illinois which passed a new licensing law in 1899 designed to license Osteopaths and other medical specialists. Under the new law, the practice of medicine was broadly defined to include physicians who practiced medicine and surgery in all their branches and anyone who wished to practice a specific system of medicine without the use of medicine or instruments. This law was designed to put the state board of health in charge of all medical practitioners including midwives, Osteopaths and potentially Christian Scientists. Physicians from the three major medical sects controlled the board and Osteopaths had little say over how the law was administered. Even under the 1887 medical practice act, practitioners who rubbed or manipulated their patients were classified as physicians.
Suffice it to say, the state’s new law did not necessarily help Osteopaths. Under Illinois law, Osteopaths were required to meet the same standards as all other physicians. They were not given a lower standard to become a physician in the state. Laws like Illinois‘ would require Osteopathic schools of medicine to rethink their school’s curriculum to help their students pass licensing exams.
Still, Osteopaths did benefit from a majority of courts’ unwillingness to interfere with their practice rights. Despite the split between the courts, a clear majority ruled that Osteopathy did not constitute the practice of medicine. In some ways, these decisions suggested that the ambivalence expressed earlier by courts about medical licensing in general. They did not hesitate to hobble these laws because of sloppy drafting or overreaching provisions. By finding Osteopathy to be outside the practice of medicine, a majority of courts sent a clear message to state legislatures that they would not allow an expansion of who was a physician without explicit legislation classifying Osteopath as doctors. While these decisions typically favored Osteopaths, the outcome was still problematic. These court decisions essentially stated that Osteopaths were not equal to physicians as healers. If Osteopaths wanted to be considered by the public to be legitimate, they needed to gain state validation.
Osteopaths already had been somewhat successful in establishing licensing laws in several states between 1892 and 1904, but they wanted to create separate licensing boards controlled by Osteopaths and expand the legislative recognition of their sect. With separate boards, Osteopaths could develop their own criteria for licensure and increase the status of legitimate practicing Osteopaths. In California alone, the newly established Osteopathic board between 1901 and 1907 issued more than nine hundred certificates to practice Osteopathy. Even as Regulars, Homeopaths, and Eclectics were moving toward unified boards, Osteopaths realized that separate boards could preserve their unique sect.