WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) are coming together in support of doctors and hospitals who have been threatened and attacked in recent months.
The groups sent a letter (PDF) to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Justice Department to investigate growing threats of violence against doctors, hospitals and families of children for providing and seeking evidence-based gender-affirming care. The organizations are also calling on tech platforms to do more to stop the rhetoric that often incites threats or acts of violence and has led to nationwide harassment campaigns, much of which targets children’s hospitals and the doctors and staff who work there.
“Whether it’s newborns receiving intensive care, children being treated for cancer, or families accessing compassionate care for their transgender adolescent, all patients seeking treatment deserve to receive the care they need without fear for their personal safety,” said AAP President Moira Silagy, MD, PhD, FAAP. “We cannot stand by while threats of violence against our members and their patients circulate with little consequence. We urge the Department of Justice to investigate these attacks and social media platforms to reduce the spread of misinformation that enables them.
The AAP and AMA collectively represent more than 270,000 physicians and medical students, and the CHA represents more than 220 children’s hospitals nationwide. The groups wrote to Attorney General Garland calling for “swift action to investigate and prosecute all responsible organizations, individuals and entities.”
“People in all workplaces have the right to a safe environment that is safe and free from intimidation or retaliation,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., Ph.D. “As physicians, we condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation that can lead to serious violence and extremism in the real world and jeopardize patient health outcomes. The AMA will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to develop and implement strategies that protect hard-working, law-abiding physicians and other health care workers from senseless acts of violence, abuse, and intimidation.
In addition to the letter to the Department of Justice, the groups are calling on Twitter, TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to do more to prevent coordinated disinformation campaigns. The organizations are asking the platforms to take bolder action when false information is shared about specific institutions and doctors. They are also calling on social media companies to implement safety and hate speech policies to stop putting patients, families, doctors and healthcare staff at risk.
“We are committed to providing a safe, supportive and inclusive health care environment for every child and family, and the clinicians and staff who are dedicated to the care of children,” said CHA President Amy Wimpey Knight. “Threats and acts of violence are not a solution or a substitute for civil dialogue on issues related to the health and well-being of a child or teenager. At CHA, we are committed to working across sectors to prevent misleading and inflammatory comments that lead to threats to those who care for patients.”
The groups wrote in their letter to Attorney General Garland: “Our organizations are dedicated to the health and well-being of all children and youth. We are committed to the full spectrum of patient care, from prevention to critical care. We support doctors, nurses, mental health professionals and other health professionals who provide evidence-based health care, including gender-affirming care, to children and adolescents.