Medical group works to combat ‘disastrous consequences of identity politics’ in medicine

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A nonprofit advocacy group is hoping to continue making inroads through 2024 in combating what the organization calls the “disastrous consequences of identity politics” in modern medicine, including transgender ideology and critical race theory. 

Do No Harm says on its website that it “represents physicians, nurses, medical students, patients, and policymakers focused on keeping identity politics out of medical education, research, and clinical practice.”

“We believe in making health care better for all — not undermining it in pursuit of a political agenda,” the group says, noting that it works to counteract divisive and controversial fads including “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DEI) programs as well as “youth-focused gender ideology.”

Stanley Goldfarb, who helped found Do No Harm and who was previously a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, told CNA in an interview that, starting years ago, he “became more and more aware of this trend that was going on around the nation to have more and more identity politics and social issues be injected into the medical school curriculum.”

This push was “all under the banner of critical race theory coming to medical education and health care,” Goldfarb said.

Goldfarb penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in 2019 in which he argued that politicized medicine was “coming at the expense of rigorous training in medical science.” That article, he told CNA, “elicited a lot of commentary and backlash and concern.” 

“I simply said I thought the medical school curriculum had started to stray into areas that were inappropriate for it,” Goldfarb said. “But even that was not appropriate.” The doctor expanded his ideas into a book; the founding of Do No Harm followed shortly thereafter. 

‘Do away with all discriminatory practices’

On its website, Do No Harm touts hundreds of Freedom of Information Act filings as well as dozens more legal complaints it has lodged with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The group says it “uses a variety of tools to combat the influx of discriminatory and divisive ideologies in medicine, including lawsuits on behalf of its members.”

Goldfarb said the group works to both “do away with all discriminatory practices in health care and medical education” and combat “so-called gender-affirming care,” particularly as it is applied to children. 

These two objectives, Goldfarb told CNA, are related, because “in each case people are being treated as if they’re members of a group.” 

“In the case of discriminatory health care, we’re supposed to deal with Black patients as if they’re members of a group instead of individuals,” he said. “Gendered children are also being told: You’re part of a group, you’re a ‘trans’ kid. It’s this failure to treat people as individuals that really motivates us. That’s the basis of our mission.”

Goldfarb said Do No Harm has taken a “three-pronged” approach to advancing its mission: The group “informs the public” via an extensive op-ed and media campaign, including publications in major U.S. newspapers. Do No Harm’s lawsuits are another part of its mission. The group has filed multiple suits “each time against organizations that have demonstrated discriminatory practices,” Goldfarb said. 

Michelle Cretella, a Catholic pediatrician and past executive director of the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), told CNA that Do No Harm is “doing great work” and that the ACP “plans on approaching them for collaborative projects in the future.”

“As a Catholic physician I appreciate that their arguments are grounded in science and natural law,” Cretella said. “This approach is ideal for educating those who are not religious but [who] still question ‘woke culture’ and are open to ‘the law written on the heart,’ as St. Paul writes.”

The group also helps craft legislation at the state level, “including laws against ‘gender-affirming care’ and eliminating DEI provisions” in state medical programs. Goldfarb pointed to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent executive order that sought to eliminate DEI practices in state government. “We’ve been active in all those spheres,” Goldfarb said.

The doctor said the group is planning several efforts in the coming year, including more research initiatives as well as participation in crafting the “Detransitioners’ Bill of Rights.”

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“There are a number of young people that have been seduced or coerced to alter their ‘gender,’” Goldfarb said, “and our bill of rights says that these individuals who have changed their minds … have certain rights, like getting medical care.” 

“They have the right to sue when they’ve been injured by physicians who have not given them the ability to really understand what they’ve committed to once they start down these medical pathways.”

The group is already making waves in 2024, including with a lawsuit against the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, which had launched a medical scholarship to which white applicants were barred from applying. The association appeared to scrub the scholarship from its website after Do No Harm filed the suit.

Racial discrimination “is illegal in America, and it should be illegal in America, because we shouldn’t treat people based on their race,” Goldfarb said. “We should treat them based on their individual characteristics.”

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