Antiracism: an Ethical Imperative

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Pediatric ethicists hold a privileged position of influence within health care institutions. Such a position confers a corresponding responsibility to address barriers to the health and flourishing of all children. A major barrier to children's health is racism. Pediatric ethicists can, and should, leverage their position to address racism both in institutional policy and the provision of pediatric care. Health care's historical and continued contributions to fostering and sustaining racist values and systems mean that those within all medical fields- regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, or profession-should consider ways they can work to offset and ultimately dismantle those values and systems. Institutional policy is a critical mechanism propagating racism in hospitals and an area where ethicists have a unique perspective to bring antiracism into ethical analysis. Many institutional and organizational policies have unintended consequences, negatively impacting children and families who have been historically marginalized and oppressed. In this paper, we report and discuss existing policies, along with how they are implemented (procedures) and how they are conducted (practices), identified through a workshop during a pediatric subgroup meeting at an annual bioethics conference. We highlight the need to focus on these structural factors and reference scholarship that can be used to correct institutional policies that uphold white supremacy. We conclude with actionable, concrete recommendations for change.


© 2023 American Academy of Pediatrics



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American Academy of Pediatrics