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Doctors sue California over training that whites are naturally racist

Law requires all continuing medical education (CME) courses to include implicit bias training

Published: August 4, 2023 9:21pm

Updated: August 4, 2023 9:37pm

(The Center Square) -

A coalition of California doctors, including the anti-discrimination group Do No Harm, filed a lawsuit against California's mandated implicit bias training for physicians, noting the training promotes the belief that "white individuals are naturally racist."

AB 241, passed by California lawmakers in 2019, requires all continuing medical education (CME) courses to include implicit bias training. Because 50 CME hours are required each year to maintain one’s medical license, the law essentially mandates that practitioners consume these lessons or lose their ability to earn their livelihoods, while also replacing limited course time with unnecessary or counterproductive information.

The case, formally titled Azadeh Khatibi, et al. v. Kristina Lawson, et. al, was originally filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) on behalf of Dr. Azadeh Khatibi, an ophthalmology specialist who immigrated to the United States from Iran when she was six. Khatibi, who is also a CME instructor, filed the case because she does “not want to be compelled to include discussion of implicit bias” in her courses because “there is no relevance to her topics, or discussion of other topics is more relevant to minimize treatment outcome disparities,” wrote the foundation in their complaint.

In their complaint, the foundation also noted that evidence that implicit bias exists at all is mixed, and that improper implicit bias training is proven to often backfire, inducing more anger and resentment than before.

Khabibi is also joined in the PLF lawsuit by Dr. Marilyn Singleton and Do No Harm.

“The implicit bias requirement promotes the inaccurate belief that white individuals are naturally racist,” said Singleton, a visiting fellow at Do No Harm, California anesthesiologist, and CME instructor. “This message can be detrimental to medical professionals and their patients as it creates an atmosphere of suspicion and animosity, which goes against the fundamental principle of doing no harm.”

The Medical Board of California declined to comment "due to pending litigation."