Ethicists Urge Teaching Critical Race Theory in Bioethics Education

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I have sometimes gotten in trouble among the bioethics crowd for claiming that their field is more of an ideological movement than a dispassionate discourse. But know this: When a bioethicist speaks, unless there is a modifier such as “conservative” or “Catholic” before the term, that person is almost surely a political progressive. Therefore, unless proven otherwise, assume that the opinion is ideologically driven from the left rather than a dispassionate exposition of learned “expertise.”

Here’s more proof. Writing in the Hastings Center Report — the world’s most august bioethics journal — two authors argue that “anti-racism” should become a priority in the field, including the teaching of critical race theory to all would-be clinical ethicists. From “Antiracist Activism in Clinical Ehtics” (my emphasis):

Clinical ethics programs should also endeavor to make undergraduate and graduate students of color more aware of and welcome in their courses. Clinical ethics education should include critical race theory and other critical theories as foundational, rather than marginal, in bioethics training programs. This means that introductory courses should ground learners in critical theories, such as critical race theory, as much as in principlism and the field’s other traditional theoretical approaches. Moreover, entire courses in the curriculum should be devoted to critical theory frameworks that attend to power and oppression.

Swell. If you think bioethics goes off the rails now, just wait until it is steeped in the poisonous brew of “antiracism” diatribes that teach “the only remedy for past discrimination is present discrimination, and the only remedy to present discrimination, is future discrimination.”

And all that these clinical bioethicists will see is race, race, race, even when there is no actual discriminatory intent or outcome:

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Clinical ethics services should ensure adequate skill development related to interrupting bias and decolonizing different tools or practices, such as chart note formats. For example, in the four-box method, it is common practice to place racism concerns in the last box, labeled “contextual features.” Instead, acknowledging the pervasiveness of racism throughout a patient’s health care experience within each of the four boxes, the others of which are labeled “medical indications,” “patient preferences,” and “quality of life,” can allow clinical ethicists to identify and highlight areas of potential power imbalances, biases, and institutional practices that may be discriminatory.

All those big words add up to a call to undermine the foundations of equality in health care and replace it with subversive concepts of equity — guaranteed to pick at social scabs rather than promote racial reconciliation and healing.

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