Dr. Bob Sears Faces Complaint from California State Medical Board

Dr. Bob Sears Faces Complaint from California State Medical Board

Dr. Sears, a well-known California physician, has recently had an accusation brought against him by the California State Medical Board. Dr. Bob Sears is a graduate of Georgetown University School of Medicine and author of The Vaccine Book

Dr. Bob Sears comes from a family of well-known physicians. His father, Dr. William Sears, graduate of Harvard Medical School, and mother, Martha Sears, RN, are widely known for their extensive writing on the subjects of birth, infant care, and attachment parenting, and have been read by thousands of new parents as a trusted resource.

Only a few short years ago, Dr. William Sears was derided publicly in a TIME magazine article (you surely remember the cover of a “shockingly” large child breastfeeding) about attachment parenting, a style of parenting long made famous by Dr. and Martha Sears, but which they consider a normal, instinctual way of raising children.

This family seems to be unafraid to stand up and say that parents are the most knowledgeable people when it comes to their children and that instincts should be honored when it comes to raising those children. (You can read Dr William Sears’ comments on the TIME article here.)

Dr Bob Sears Faces Complaint From California State Medical Board

Now, Dr. Bob Sears, who has been publicly questioning the recent California law, SB-277, has had a complaint filed against him by the Medical Board of California.

While the complaint includes various allegations, the one that has people taking notice and questioning the motive of the State’s action concerns his recommendation that a child not be given continued vaccinations after the mother reported a vaccine reaction that is, by some, considered severe. The child in question had a reaction that included going limp for 24 hours and a shut down of his digestion. You can read the full complaint here.

While current media portrayal of Dr. Bob Sears is overwhelmingly negative, many report adoring Dr Bob and his treatment of them and their children.

A patient of his, Abigail Illenberger, says this:

Dr. Bob has been nothing less than thorough and attentive. In the eight years of knowing him as our doctor he has consistently devoted his time to each of our appointments. He is extremely respectful when it comes to our wishes and presents information in an unbiased and informative manner. He has never told us what to do. Rather, he presents information and takes the time to help us as parents work through the information. I have come to understand that doctors like this are a rare breed. We are very grateful to have Doctor Bob as our pediatrician.

Hopefully the recent complaint against Dr. Bob Sears is not motivated by his questioning of mandated vaccines as a warning to any doctor who write medical exemptions for California children.

As a parent of school aged children in California, I have talked to numerous parents who are scrambling to find a doctor who honors their choice as a parent to decide what goes into the body of their children. Such doctors are difficult to find – though many doctors express concern privately.

I have had medical doctors and other medical professionals express to me that there are too many vaccines too young. I have had them admit that certain vaccines are unnecessary. I have had them say that yes, that type of reaction is common. I have met many who are sensitive to the feelings and choices and autonomy of parents – even if they disagree with them.

And yet they are afraid to write waivers and they are afraid to speak up publicly about the current vaccine requirements and laws.

I hope that this recent complaint against Dr. Bob Sears is not an effort to scare these doctors off. Certainly, if a well-known, respected, book publishing doctor with a degree from a prestigious medical school and famous parents can have his licence revoked for (in part) writing a vaccine exemption, then who is safe? 

Are the powers that be simply trying to make an example of Dr. Bob Sears and ensure that others dare not step out of line?

Dr Bob Sears Faces Complaint From California State Medical Board

Dr. Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D. is concerned. An investigative journalist at the front lines of the ongoing patient autonomy debate and co-author of the recently published book, The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, says this: 

I am deeply troubled that the Medical Board of California would be accusing Dr. Sears of gross negligence when the existing evidence shows that he acted in the best interests of his patient, at the mom’s request.

Concerned doctors were told publicly and privately that the state would not go after doctors for writing warranted and medically indicated exemptions, yet that is what they are doing. I find this baffling. And I’m glad that we have medical freedom and personal choice in Oregon. I know of dozens of California families that have moved up here to escape California’s medical rigidity. Oregon welcomes you with open arms.

(You can read more from Dr. Margulis, Ph.D. here.)

If teaching him a lesson is the motivation, then this is a very scary time.

We think of medical doctors as the wealthy elite, but they are regular people who go to school for a very long time and who, generally, incur a huge amount of debt to get that education.

I worry that more and more medical doctors are afraid.

They must pay gigantic amounts of money every year in malpractice insurance because they know that a lawsuit can ruin them. Rather than being able to practice medicine based on doing what is right for their patients, they must practice, test, and operate from a place of fear. Fear of litigation, and now for California pediatricians, fear that the medical board will come after them if they dare listen to their patients and allow them to choose refusal of medical procedures contrary to what is currently popular.

Can medical doctors really “do no harm” if their motivations as they practice are based on fear rather than the best interest of their patients and respecting patient’s rights?

Or will they be forced to operate solely at the discretion of unknown and outside forces not privy to doctor/patient conversations?


I had the privilege of meeting Dr. William and Martha Sears a few years ago and spending some time with them. They were genuine and good people who have spent their lives working to support parents and give children the best life possible. They are kind and respectful.

By patient accounts, their son Bob is the same. I am so saddened that this good family is having their name tarnished in the media by these allegations. I am grateful for medical doctors who take the time to talk to and listen to their patients in a rushed environment that makes this difficult.

We need more doctors who are intelligent and kind AND who respect that their patients are also intelligent and capable of making medical decisions for their own children.

Photo credits: radical.librarian via Foter.com / CC BYUSACE Europe District via Foter.com / CC BYNIAID via Foter.com / CC BY

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