Minding the Sciences—Lancet’s Radical Shift: A Call to Reform Medical Ethics

It is not news that the Lancet is politicized. The once-respected journal, the gold standard for medical research publication, has been hawking radical left policy in the guise of “medical policy” for a generation and more. America’s medical establishment may never be quite as radical as the Lancet, but it usually adopts Lancet’s positions with a lag time: what the Lancet says now, our own doctors will take as dogma a few years down the road. So, it’s worth checking from time to time on the state-of-play of radicalization at the Lancet.

To take a recent example: “The Lancet Commission on peaceful societies through health equity and gender equality.” Grant that the very topic of the Commission was likely to attract the more radical activists within the Lancet milieu. Yet it is telling that a putatively medical article consists of 62 pages of mind-numbingly banal radical jargon.

Health equity and gender equality are powerful agents of transformation because they require definitive actions, namely tangible and sustained policies that improve health and gender equality outcomes. We refer to these definitive actions as the mechanisms of health equity and gender equality. Health equity requires countries to embrace the right to health, acknowledge disparities, and recognize that universal access to health care services is crucial for human potential and dignity. Gender equality requires laws to protect the rights of women and sexual and gender minorities. All individuals need equal access to education, resources, technology, infrastructure, safety, and security to enable participation in the economy, civil society, and politics. Processes to advance health equity and gender equality are more powerful when they operate together through access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. Advocacy is also an essential component, as it builds a social consensus that the principles of health equity and gender equality apply to all individuals—regardless of their gender or other forms of identity.

The gist of the 62 pages is that the medical profession must dedicate itself to the radical policy goals of “health equity” and so-called “gender equality,” which means the entire progressive policy wish-list from subsidized abortion to the compelled mania of transgenderism. Both involve inflicting deliberate harm. Physicians vow to do no harm. To criticize this tyrannical to-do list in detail would be to lose sight of the main point: medicine is the profession of healing, not a political agenda. A commission speaking in the name of the most prestigious medical journal in the world takes for granted the grotesque abandonment of professional norms that follows inexorably from conflating medicine and progressive politics.

Equally telling is that the main published critique of the Commission’s report is not from the traditionalists but from two members of the Commission who thought it was not sufficiently “decolonial.”

The Commission calls on decolonization scholars to accept the importance of universal principles and their potential to guide change. However, a decolonial approach does not reject universalism. Instead, it demands re-historicizing and re-politicizing universalist assumptions that reinforce power asymmetries and discourses that construe some peoples and places in colonial ways. A decolonial lens would have compelled the Commission to analyze structural violence, break away from epistemological power structures, and call for a radical, rather than reformist, re-envisioning of our collective futures.

The radical minority wanted the Commission to come out explicitly for “anti-capitalism” and “decolonization”—the latter, we now know quite clearly from the Hamas massacres of Israelis, is a euphemism for the torture and murder of men, women, and children, to be cheered on so long as the victims are “colonizers,” or to be perfectly frank, Jews. The Commission replied with soft demurral—deeply as they sympathized with the decolonizers, priority should be for “health equity” and “gender equality”—without exceptions for so-called “colonized peoples.”

The imprimatur of the Lancet thus divides the medical profession between the soft dictators on the left and the left’s hard dictators—between those who would nudge the existing system to suppress anyone who disagrees with their health and gender radical politics, and those who would tear down the existing system to destroy capitalism and to “decolonize.” Both sides are claiming to speak in the name of medicine, health, and their moral imperatives. The “moderates” would impose the mores of abortion on demand in Afghanistan; the radicals would impose the mores of Afghanistan on the West. Both would drape themselves hypocritically in the mantles of Hippocrates and Galen. The moderates’ “reproductive rights” are the right to slice apart babies with the consent of their mothers. The radicals’ “decolonization” would slice apart babies without their mothers’ consent, and maybe the mothers’ too. One could hardly expect such moderates to have the moral foundation with which to condemn the radicals. Neither have much of a moral foundation at all, it seems.

The Lancet Commission reveals a medical establishment committed to different forms of moral grotesquerie, which must be reformed root and branch. An old rhyme is almost apposite:

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why – I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.

But we do have good reason to dislike our Doctor Fells. Read what they write, and you will find the explanation more than sufficient.

Photo by Jared Gould – Text to Image – Adobe


2 thoughts on “Minding the Sciences—Lancet’s Radical Shift: A Call to Reform Medical Ethics

  1. OK, let’s take a different hypothetical — what would we do if they were all in the Klan?

    What would we do if the Lancet were increasingly endorsing White Supremacy and if our leading medical schools started calling for the extermination of the Black race?

    Yea, we’d pass laws about that — I’d argue that we did way back in 1964. There not only would be calls to boycott the Lancet but laws passed banning the use of public funds to purchase it. The White-only medical schools would lose Federal funding and likely be sued. That’s how we would deal with it.

    So yes, Jonathan, that’s how we should deal with this. We license MDs and accredit both medical schools and hospitals — much as we have said “thou shalt not be racist”, we can also say “thou shalt not be woke.”

    That’s what we’d do, if we had the guts to do it — and I argue that MAGA is going to morph into a social movement similar to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and *will* get laws passed to address situations like this.

  2. So what is to be done? Pass a law forbidding the medical profession to be woke? Shall we stop employing doctors so they just go away? And it is certainly not just the medical profession. I heard a talk by an architecture professor recently in which he called for radically re-making transportation systems so as to counter homelessness and promote equity. It is easy to ignore, but that won’t make it go away.

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