Advocacy in Action: Protecting Reproductive Health

In its 6–3 decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health OrgThe US Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade precedent, guaranteeing patients’ legal right to abortion care across the country.

The end of Rowe puts the government in the patient-physician relationship, risks serious adverse health consequences and criminalization of care.

The Dobbs The decision represents “an outrageous admission of government intrusion into the medical examination room, a direct attack on the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship, and a flagrant violation of patients’ rights to evidence-based reproductive health services,” AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD in medicine, said the day the decision was issued.

Delegating reproductive health decision-making to legislators creates a deep political rift between states over access to reproductive health services that puts good medical practice and patient health at risk, leaving millions with little or no access to reproductive health services. More than a dozen states have banned abortions, some with virtually no exceptions, and some states threaten doctors who provide care with prison.

With outright bans or strict restrictions, some will be forced to travel out of state to get an abortion. Other patients will manage the abortion themselves, and still others will be forced to carry their pregnancy to term. Each outcome increases the likelihood of negative physical and mental health consequences.

The AMA and more than two dozen leading medical organizations have filed an amicus brief (PDF) with the Supreme Court, explaining to the justices that “abortion is a safe medical service.”

The AMA supports patient access to the full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion and contraception, as a right. Physicians’ ethical obligation is to help patients choose the optimal course of treatment through shared decision-making that is fully informed by medical science and shaped by patient autonomy. Anything less puts patients at risk and undermines the practice of medicine and the health of the nation.

Laws banning abortion also hurt patients from economically marginalized, rural, and historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups the most.

AMA has:

  • We supported continued, unrestricted access to mifepristone through joint letters with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to the White House (PDF) and the Food and Drug Administration (PDF)
  • Supports new Department of Health and Human Services privacy guidance that clarifies that doctors are not required to disclose personal medical information to third parties and provides advice to patients about using personal cell phones and tablets.
  • Testified to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations as part of its hearing, “Overturning Roe: The Impact of Taking Away the Constitutional Right to Abortion.”
  • Join the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and more than 75 other medical professional societies in expressing united opposition to legislative interference in the relationships between patients, physicians and other health professionals.
  • Welcomes President Joe Biden’s executive order that promises to explore ways to protect access to reproductive health services.
  • Supported the Biden administration’s guidance on the Emergency Medical Care and Labor Act, which replaces state abortion bans, and filed amicus briefs inTexas v. BecerraandUnited States v. Idahoon the topic.
  • Issued a statement with the American Pharmacists Association, the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, and the National Association of Community Pharmacists urging policymakers to clarify the legal obligations associated with prescribing/dispensing drugs that are indicated for abortion but may be prescribed under other causes (eg methotrexate).
  • Filed a number of lawsuits challenging state abortion bans, including in Arizona.

AMA is:

  • Encourage the administration and the Department of Justice to ensure that patients can travel freely across state lines to obtain abortions when they cannot in their own states, and that the doctors who treat them will not be attacked by overzealous prosecutors in restrictive states.
  • We are working to get the FDA to make oral hormonal contraceptives available over the counter.
  • Cooperate with state medical associations to ensure access to necessary medical care and laws to protect abortion providers and patients from interstate criminal and civil actions.

Visit AMA Advocacy in Action to learn more about the advocacy priorities the AMA is actively working on.

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