MLN Vol.7.No.4

Massage Law Newsletter

Vol. 7,  No.4                                     ISSN 1073-5461                    March 1999

A Declaration of  Independence

for Massage Therapists*

Albert Schatz and Mary Brewster

"WHEN, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for ... people " who do massage "to assume  ...  the ... station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to" take action to assert their human dignity.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all" massage therapists "are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That doing  massage is Life for those of  us who make our living that way because it enables us to buy our daily bread. 

That doing massage is our Liberty because it is the exercise of our freedom to make an honest living by working in a profession of our choice; namely, massage which does not harm people.

That massage is our Pursuit of Happiness because it provides us with the satisfaction and fulfillment of enhancing the health and contributing to the well-being of our fellow men and women, without causing harm to those whom we massage.

That monopoly control of massage denies us our God-given "Rights ... of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

"The history of the present" state  and local massage laws "is a history of repeated injustices and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over" those of us who make an honest living by doing massage, without harming anybody.

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations" by state and local massage laws, "pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such" state massage laws "and to provide new Guards for their future security.

"Such has  been the patient sufferance of these" massage therapists; "and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their ... Systems of" state and local massage laws.


Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and Surgeon General of the Continental Army of the United States, believed:

The Constitution of the Republic should make special provision for Medical Freedom as well as Religious Freedom. To restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others will constitute the Bastille of medical science.  All such laws are un-American and despotic. They are fragments of monarchy and have no place in a republic

So many massage therapists with so many kinds of training have massaged so many people with so many contraindications so many times for so many years with so many benefits reported in so many publications, but with so few, if any, well-documented cases of harm.

Regulation of massage therapists and local ordinances, which prohibit the free exercise of the right to  do massage, violate constitutional law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions1 that:

1. protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press,

2. prohibit discrimination and arbitrary governmental interference

3. prohibit  restraint of trade, monopolies, and unfair trade practices.

Regulation of massage therapists and local ordinances, which prohibit the free exercise of the right to  do massage, also  violate our right to work, as set forth in the United Nations' International Bill of Human Rights.


1. That "there is a paramount and com- pelling public interest" which justifies  regulation of massage therapists because "the right" [to earn a living by doing massage, which does not harm people] "may not be taken away or impaired unless there is a paramount and compelling public interest" to do that.

2. That "regulation is reasonable, or reasonably necessary to promote the public order, safety, health, morals, and welfare.

3. That regulation is needed to protect the public from harm because massage therapists do not harm their clients.

4, That regulation significantly reduces prostitution. Local ordinances and state laws that prohibit prostitution, which apply to all women, do not effectively control prostitution. Therefore, how can local massage ordinances and state massage laws, which apply to only a very small percent of women, significantly reduce prostitution?

3. That regulation contributes to the "public order, safety, health, morals, and welfare" in any other way. 


Regulation is highly controversial because it affects our right to work and earn a living. We are upset when our livelihood is threatened. When we actively oppose that threat, controversy occurs. This controversy is basically about freedom - our freedom to make an honest living by doing massage, which does not harm anybody, without having to pay for the privilege of exercising our freedom.

Many of us massage therapists don't want to pay our hard-earned money for more massage training which we don't need, and for a written examination that does not objectively measure our competence in terms of on-the-job performance.

Many of us massage therapists don't want state regulation because we don't need it. The public doesn't need it. The laws are promoted by a minority that represents special interest groups which benefit economically from regulation.



We do not believe that a minority has a "manifest destiny" to rule the massage world. We want the massage profession to be a democracy "of the people" who do massage, "by the people, for the people."

Let no one tell us:

"Ours is not to questions why.

 Ours is but to do and die." 2

We are free women and free men who do not want others to do our thinking for us.

 "It IS our right to question why.

We are NOT robots who comply."


*This report is adapted from the "A Declaration of Independence from Monopoly Control of the Massage Profession" by A. Schatz and K. Carlson in the Journal of Health Frontiers. 2(1):1-8. 1994.

1. Schatz. A. Do state massage laws and local massage ordinances violate U.S. Constitutional Law, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and the United Nations' International Bill of Rights? Massage Law Newsletter. 4(3):1-6. 1998.:

2. Alfred Lord Tennyson. The Charge of the Light Brigade.

3.  Our other reports on state regulation of massage are available on <>.


[Home] [Massage Law] [Journal ] [Special Issues] [Bios] [Spiritual Massage] [Massage Humor]