New York Times, August 15th, Page C-11
"Patrick Chavis, 50, Affirmative Action Figure"
Patrick Chavis, one of five black students whose admission to a medical
school in California 30 years ago provoked a Supreme Court battle over
affirmative action, died on July 23 in Hawthorne, Calif. He was 50. Mr.
Chavis, whose medical license was revoked five years ago for malpractice,
was fatally shot as he returned to his car after buying an ice cream cone in
Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Investigators theorized that three men had tried to hijack Mr. Chavis's car
but fled without it. Mr. Chavis lived in Inglewood, Calif. In 1973, Mr.
Chavis was admitted to the University of California at Davis medical school
in a program to increase black enrollment. Allan Bakke, a white applicant
who was rejected despite having higher scores than the five black
applicants, sued to be admitted. In 1978, the Supreme Court struck down the
program, ruling that race could be a factor but not the only factor
considered for admission.
After graduation, Dr. Chavis returned to Los Angeles as an obstetrician and
gynecologist, to the area where he had grown up. In the mid-1990's, his work
won him attention in articles in The New York Times Magazine, in The Nation
and on television programs. In 1996, Senator Edward M. Kennedy called him a
"perfect example" of how affirmative action worked. Mr. Kennedy and other
proponents of affirmative action suggested, at least implicitly, that Dr.
Bakke, an anesthesiologist in Rochester, Minn., had achieved less than Dr.
The University of California at Davis has no records of what the four blacks
admitted with Dr. Chavis are doing, a spokeswoman, Julia Ann Easley, said.
By 1996, Dr. Chavis was using liposuction to help women lose weight after
giving birth. He was accused of mistreating eight liposuction patients, one
of whom died. In 1998, the Medical Board of California revoked his license
for "gross negligence, incompetence and repeated negligent acts." He became
a rallying point for opponents of affirmative action. Other people said Dr.
Chavis's medical practice did not reflect relaxed admission standards but
rather that he was a doctor with problems.
Mr. Chavis grew up in Compton, Calif. He and his four siblings were
supported by welfare and what their mother earned as a beautician. He
attended Albion College, 90 miles west of Detroit, where he earned a biology
degree. He readily conceded that he would never have been admitted to
medical school under the normal standards, but maintained grades of 3.2 to
3.3 on a 4.0 scale. After residency and earning a master's degree in public
health from the University of California at Los Angeles, he moved to Compton
and set up his practice in nearby Lynwood. His professional difficulties
began in 1993, at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, when he was accused of
mishandling a delivery, and the hospital began monitoring him.
He sued, charging racism. In a jury trial, he won $1.1 million in damages,
but a judge overturned the verdict. By 1997, he said he had delivered 10,000
children and performed thousands of abortions. About that time, he added
liposuction to his practice. His personal and professional life then took a
further downturn. In 1997, The Associated Press found in court records that
he had been sued 21 times for malpractice and had settled some suits with no
admission of guilt.
He declared bankruptcy and went through the second of two divorces. In 1997,
his license was suspended, for not paying child support, but he continued to
practice. The medical board used that as one of more than 90 counts in
revoking his license the next year. Surviving are three children and several
[My own commentary]
To some this is a sad story; to some it may serve him right for being an abortionist.
He admits he could not get into medical school on his own merit. At the same time he used the race card to file a lawsuit because of being accused of mishandling a delivery. I find it ironic that he would use the same racism stance that got him into med school in the first place. I also find it ironic that for a Black man growing up in 'da hood' that he had ample opportunity to get out, but instead he stayed and ending up dieing there. Like so many Blacks he was a victim of his own race, and not the victim of White oppression, a stance that so many minorities take these days.
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