Physicians for Reproductive Health condemns the institutionalized racism that has led to the recent murders of Black people by police officers.
Dr. Kristyn Brandi, Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, issued the following statement:
“I know that this was an incredibly hard week compounding an already challenging few months. The murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others has led to outrage and anguish among the Black community and like-minded co-conspirators who are fighting against racism in our police system and in our communities.
…we as physicians have an important role to play in breaking down racism.
“So many of us are hurting right now: worried about the future, worried about our own families, wondering how we can stop losing more of our Black neighbors every day. I, like many, am struggling with the profound unrest in our world, exacerbated by the immense loss suffered disproportionately by the Black community from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we as physicians have an important role to play in breaking down racism. First and foremost, we must honor the fact that Black Lives Matter. With that held true, we must actively participate in anti-racism work.
The killing of Black Americans through police brutality is a public health crisis.
“The killing of Black Americans through police brutality is a public health crisis. In addition to senselessly lost lives, these killings create substantial trauma for the victims’ families and for the communities they leave behind; trauma that lasts for generations. As stewards of public health, we have an obligation to call out racist institutions as a means to advocate for better health and the survival of our fellow citizens. While I hope we can get to a point where thriving is possible in Black communities, we first must work towards making sure that our Black citizens are able to survive institutions that should protect all Americans.
“Part of this anti-racism work includes acknowledging how the health care system is an institution that has perpetuated racism for centuries. My work as a physician is influenced just as much by my experiences as a Latinx queer woman as it is from my medical training steeped in this racist history. The health care system has perpetuated so much discrimination and suffering towards communities of color. We as physicians, especially given our mostly white demographics, need to own this and actively work towards a better solution. There has been much talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic highlights how structural and institutional racism impacts peoples’ health. While it seems like two disasters are happening at once, in actuality both are linked in how Black communities are being treated as less than the rest of us. Racism kills patients, not just through police brutality, but also when physicians do not listen and engage our communities equitably. We must do better – this is something our community can actively work on here and now.
Racism kills patients, not just through police brutality, but also when physicians do not listen and engage our communities equitably.
“Physicians for Reproductive Health, while not a reproductive justice organization, supports and embodies reproductive justice principles in our work. We are tasked with training the next generation of physicians to advocate for better reproductive health for all, but that cannot exist in a vacuum. Just as we work to give voice to our patients facing abortion restrictions or lack of access to gender-affirming care, we equally need to speak out against racism. As reproductive justice articulates – our patients should have the human right to have children, to not have children, and to parent those children in safe and sustainable communities. This last point must have equal weight in our work as physician advocates. We must follow the lead of Black-led, anti-racist groups to end this needless violence in our communities.”