No social distancing while protesting lockdowns: not OK
Four American doctors and ethicists from the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) Ethics Committee have compared the morality of participating in rallies for Black Lives Matters versus rallies against lockdowns.
Writing in the blog of The Hastings Center, they say:
Physicians have been vocal in condemning the anti-lockdown protests, while endorsing and even participating in the Black Lives Matter protests. This has led to criticism of the medical community for being inconsistent and hypocritical. These allegations are serious as the perceived hypocrisy of physicians can erode trust in expert opinion at a time where decisive and coordinated action is necessary to minimize the death toll of Covid-19.
Using a four-box ethical analysis based on Beauchamp and Childress’s four principles of medical ethics, they conclude that BLM protesters are justified but anti-lockdown protesters are not.
Why? Mainly because they believe that BLM protests will help dismantle systemic racism, which leads to worse health outcomes for African-Americans and other minorities. The anti-lockdown movement, on the other hand, is protesting against essential public health measures. It is quite clear to the authors that “the societal costs of Covid-19 would end up being higher with inadequate containment measures than with lockdown measures because of a higher disease burden and a more prolonged recession”.
QED, doctors are not being hypocritical in supporting peaceful BLM protests while backing bans on anti-lockdown protests.
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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