Kenan Senior Fellow Calls on Bioethics to Address Racial Inequalities in Health Care

Patrick Smith
Patrick Smith

As a member of an independent antiracism task force of bioethicists, Kenan Senior Fellow Patrick T. Smith co-edited a recently published Hastings Center report, “A Critical Moment in Bioethics: Reckoning with Anti-Black Racism through Intergenerational Dialogue.”

“As an academic field concerned with health and health care issues, particularly the influence of structures, policies, practices, and norms on conditions that unfairly advantage some and disadvantage others throughout society, bioethics has a moral and ethical responsibility to respond to the long-standing intergenerational challenges that racism has posed to the overall health and well-being of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color,” the editors write in their introduction.

The report presents articles addressing anti-Black racism in health care settings, health equity research, and the field of bioethics, along with recommendations to address the structural forces perpetuating unequal racial outcomes.

Smith also contributed an article to the report, “Speaking Volumes: The Encyclopedia of Bioethics and Racism,” with co-author Charlene Galarneau. They argue that the encyclopedia obscures racism “by its historical inattention to African American approaches to bioethics, to racism as a bioethics issue, and specifically to racism as a matter of justice.”

Patrick Smith works at the intersection of social ethics, moral philosophy, and theological bioethics. He is Associate Research Professor of Theological Ethics and Bioethics at Duke Divinity School. He also directs the bioethics program at the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and the History of Medicine.

Read more about Professor Smith in “Good Question,” a Kenan Institute for Ethics publication focused on Duke faculty and the ethical questions driving their research.