Perhaps the most destructive philosophy in America today is critical race theory, built on the supposition of inherent racism in the nation that has facilitated the most diverse sociopolitical and economic opportunities for minorities in human history.
Among the latest to embrace this philosophy is the American Medical Association. On May 11, the AMA released a white paper entitled “Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity.” The plan aims to “prioritize and integrate the voices and ideas” of racial minorities, women, LGBT people, etc., through steps like “mandatory anti-racism, structural competency, and equity-explicit training,” “ensuring just representation of [minorities] in medical school admissions as well as medical school and hospital leadership ranks,” and “acknowledging and repairing past harms committed by institutions.”
The document should concern anyone who took the Hippocratic Oath or the Oath of Maimonides, hoping to serve patients without factoring in their skin color or ethnicity. This “Strategic Plan” is also only the latest in a long series of disappointments from the AMA.
The AMA’s Many Left Turns
The AMA initially existed to improve the nation’s quality of care and of the physicians who provided it. In the 1950s, it helped defeat a government-run socialized health-care insurance scheme. In 1965, the AMA also opposed Medicare, correctly foreseeing the government behemoth would eventually control physician earnings and the practice of medicine.
But the AMA changed after the passage of Medicare, cozying up to government in a slow erosion of allegiance to its members. Predictably, the AMA became more dependent on government-generated income, while its negotiating abilities against government interference weakened.
The AMA’s position worsened when it openly endorsed elective abortions as a contraceptive procedure. Before the 1960s, the AMA strongly opposed abortion on demand.
In 1969, a resolution from its left flank calling for the repeal of state laws against abortion was vehemently opposed by its House of Delegates and described as “extreme.” Just six months later, however, the AMA caved to political pressure and reversed its position. Despite the classical Hippocratic Oath’s condemnation of abortion, the AMA now allowed its physicians to kill the unborn.
The abandonment of members’ priorities continued from there. In 2009, the AMA agreed to support Obamacare — despite staunch opposition from a large swath of its members — on the condition that it also permanently correct the formula determining how physicians were reimbursed by Medicare. What physicians got was something even worse: the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.
Then, on April 26, 2021, the AMA blindly and irresponsibly supported the practice of genital mutilation on minors who reject their biological sex. The AMA told the National Governors Association it opposed “state legislation that would prohibit medically necessary gender transition-related care for minor patients.”
Its message was not a call for increased funding for research or improved help for children that doesn’t permanently damage their bodies. Rather, it was a demand that mutilating and irreversible procedures, like the lobotomies of old, were not to be opposed.
Embracing Critical Race Theory
Just a few weeks later, the AMA took another radical position by embracing critical race theory and its contention that the United States is inherently and systemically racist.
Make no mistake: there isn’t a respectable physician in America who does not wish for more accessible and affordable health care. There is no caring physician who doesn’t want minorities and the poor to get the care they need as easily as possible. But these sentiments are a far cry from the assumptions of critical race theory.
The AMA claims its “Organizational Strategic Plan” originated at “the AMA’s Annual House of Delegates meeting in June of 2018 [where] a time-limited Health Equity Task Force [was created to address] inequities in health care.” Yet none of the AMA delegates with whom I have spoken since the white paper’s publication recall a debate considering critical race theory. If there had been such a resolution, it would have never been adopted.
Once again, the AMA put its political standing above the authorization of its members. It has become a leftist organization that repeatedly rejects the desires of its members in pursuit of its own self-serving, protective agenda.
As a result, physicians are left without reliable representation. In the meantime, the practice of medicine continues to slide further from its origins and its intended ends. So what are doctors to do? There’s only one answer: schism.
America’s physicians — and their patients — desperately need a medical organization designed to represent them, that will protect physician independence and pursue medical education without government interference or meddling. Although the Association for American Physicians and Surgeons nobly provides a libertarian voice for some of America’s doctors, the alternative needs to be broader.
The medical field needs an organization that will advocate for improved physician practices and healthcare delivery, not vogue and misguided social causes outside the medical profession’s sphere. Such an organization should serve as an umbrella for various state chapters and subspecialty societies, and a haven for like-minded medical organizations seeking shelter from the hostile and reckless actions of the AMA. Until then, America’s physicians sit at the mercy of the next feckless act the AMA decides to undertake.