J Bioeth Inq. 2021 Jan 2. doi: 10.1007/s11673-020-10073-0. Online ahead of print.
This paper discusses the ethical implications of racism and some of the various costs associated with racism occurring at the institutional level. We argue that, in many ways, the laws, social structures, and institutions in Western society have operated to perpetuate the continuation of historical legacies of racial inequities with or without the intention of individuals and groups in society. By merely maintaining existing structures, laws, and social norms, society can impose social, economic, and health costs on racial minorities that impinge on their well-being and human dignity. Based on a review of multidisciplinary research on racism, particularly focusing on healthcare, we demonstrate how institutional racism leads to social and economic inequalities in society. By positing institutional racism as the inherent cause of avoidable disparities in healthcare, this paper draws attention to the ethical significance of racism, which remains a relatively neglected issue in bioethics research.