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New advocacy group plans litigation against woke takeover of medicine, research on its harms

Do No Harm will tackle race-based COVID treatment but not cancel campaigns against doctors for purported COVID misinformation, executive director says.

Published: April 21, 2022 1:15pm

Updated: April 22, 2022 10:39pm

Medical schools are increasingly promoting critical race theory (CRT) and antiracism at the expense of teaching medicine, and a new membership advocacy group is prepared to file litigation to stop it.

Do No Harm announced its launch Tuesday following nearly a month of stealth blog posts. Its mission is "combating the attack on our health care system from woke activists," whose real-world results include race-based treatment decisions regarding COVID-19.

The diversity obsession that starts in medical school harms patients by swapping out "rigorous training" for racially segregated affinity groups, "lessons in social activism" and a demonstrated commitment to "diversity, equity and inclusion" (DEI) required for tenure and promotion.

The group noted Harvard Medical School's training hospital launched a pilot program last year to provide "preferential care based on race or ethnicity" despite acknowledging its vulnerability to "legal challenges from our system of colorblind law."

On the eve of COVID lockdowns, the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination changed its Step 1 exam that screens med students for acceptance into residency programs from graded to pass/fail. This change is a "stunning endangerment of patients," Do No Harm said.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine professor Stanley Goldfarb, its former associate dean of instruction, is chairing the group, which is seeking tax-exempt status from the IRS. 

It aims to "protect those individuals who are concerned that speaking out will damage their careers and risk harassment for their views," he said in a press release. The kidney specialist explained the new group's mission and nature of the problem in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Goldfarb told Just the News he had received "about 20 nice emails and some support on Twitter," mostly from "practicing physicians including some administrative types." Among those who sent private notes, "[a]lmost all would have difficulty speaking openly for fear of retaliation."

Do No Harm got plugs from former New York congresswoman and ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth, parental rights activist group Parents Defending Education and the right-leaning National Association of Scholars, which has also researched activism in medicine.

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Goldfarb put a target on his back with a 2019 WSJ op-ed against med schools adding programs on climate change and other social justice topics that "only tangentially" relate to healthcare, when more oncologists, cardiologists and surgeons were needed.

"Today a master's degree in education is often what it takes to qualify for key administrative roles on medical-school faculties," he wrote, in line with the "administrator-rich, policy-heavy, form-over-function approach at every level of American education." 

Penn Med students and alumni challenged Goldfarb in open letters. Alumni noted he had likely reviewed their applications and seen their passion for social justice, "[y]et in one fell swoop you have rejected the worth of our core personal and professional identities." 

While he doesn't directly blame DEI for the shortages he mentioned in certain medical specializations, "medical school classroom time is described by the accrediting agency so there are limited hours for instructions," Goldfarb told Just the News. 

"Many schools like Penn have ramped up the curriculum on DEI issues so time must come out of the previous teaching schedule," he said, noting the Ivy League school hired a new associate dean for the "Health Equity Curriculum."

At the moment, Goldfarb is the only medical professional among the group's leaders, Do No Harm Executive Director Kristina Rasmussen told Just the News in a phone call. Her former positions include president of the free-market Illinois Policy Institute, chief of staff to former Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and vice president of federal affairs at the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Do No Harm has three board members from backgrounds in public policy and "equal access before the law," but it's not a political or partisan group, she said. It's keeping their identities private to protect them from harassment until public disclosure is required on tax forms.

Rasmussen said her "inbox is bursting right now" with potential members, from professors to clinicians and nurses, showing "just how deep a need there is" for the new organization, which is "still very much in startup phase."

Unlike Hillsdale College's new Academy for Science and Freedom, it does not plan to address campaigns against doctors for spreading purported COVID misinformation, she said.

Do No Harm will likely sign a contract with a researcher next week to study the academic literature on "woke outcomes" and scrutinize methodologies and conclusions in DEI research, Rasmussen said, and "may" add an advocacy track focused on lawmakers.

She hinted Do No Harm will announce its first lawsuit in the next two weeks against a government entity for "aiding and abetting" antiracist ideas and turning them into policy. As a membership organization that charges a $20 fee that can be waived, it can gain legal standing on members' behalf in some situations.

Do No Harm's structure and mission somewhat resembles that of the year-old Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), whose advisers include high-profile intellectuals such as Columbia University's John McWhorter, Brown's Glenn Loury and Harvard's Steven Pinker, and journalists Megyn Kelly and Bari Weiss.

FAIR has a medical program and a legal network that includes an attorney who is representing a Filipina physician, Tara Gustilo. She was removed as chair of Hennepin Healthcare System's obstetrics-gynecology department after she disagreed with its "segregated care based on race" and expressed similar criticisms of CRT on Facebook.

Unlike FAIR, Do No Harm doesn't plan to have local chapters but wants to be "on the ground" in communities, Rasmussen said. It has already received many tips about workplace diversity training through its online portal and is helping medical professionals who fear losing their jobs decide how to respond.

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