Advocacy in Action: Protecting Reproductive Health

In his 6-3 ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationthe U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade precedent guaranteeing patients’ legal right to abortion care nationwide. The end of Roe places government in the patient-doctor relationship, risks serious adverse health consequences and criminalization of care.

The Dobbs decision represents “a blatant attribution of government interference in the medical research space, a direct attack on medical practice and the patient-physician relationship, and a brutal violation of patients’ rights to evidence-based reproductive health services,” AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD, said the day the ruling was made.

Shifting reproductive health decision making to legislators is leading to a deep political divide between states over access to reproductive health services, jeopardizing healthy medical practices and patient health, leaving millions with little or no access to reproductive health services. More than a dozen states have banned abortion, some with virtually no exceptions, and some states threaten doctors who provide care with jail time.

With outright bans or severe restrictions, some will be forced to travel out of state to have an abortion. Other patients will arrange the abortion themselves, and still others will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term. Each outcome increases the likelihood of negative consequences for one’s physical and psychological health.

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

The AMA supports patient access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care options, including abortion and birth control, as a right. It is the ethical duty of physicians to help patients choose the optimal course of treatment, through shared decision-making that is fully underpinned by medical science and shaped by patient autonomy. Anything less puts patients at risk and undermines the nation’s medicine and health.

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

The AMA has:

  • 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)
  • Supported new privacy guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services that made it clear that physicians are not required to disclose personal medical information to third parties and provide patients with tips on how to use personal cell phones and tablets.
  • Testimony submitted to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations as part of its hearing, “Roe Reversal: The Impacts of Taking Away the Constitutional Right to Abortion.”
  • Joined the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and more than 75 other medical professional associations in uniting opposition to legal interference in the relationships between patients, physicians and other health professionals.
  • Applauded President Joe Biden’s executive order pledging to explore avenues to protect access to reproductive health care.
  • Supported the Biden administration’s guidance on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act replacing state bans on abortions and filed amicus briefs inTexas v. BecerraandUnited States vs. Idahoabout the subject.
  • Released statement with American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and National Community Pharmacists Association calling on policy makers to clarify legal obligations related to prescribing/dispensing medications indicated for abortion but may be prescribed for other reasons (e.g. methotrexate).
  • Filed a number of amicus briefs challenging the state’s ban on abortion, including in Arizona.

The AMA is:

  • Encouraging the administration and Justice Department to ensure that patients can travel freely across state lines to get abortions when they cannot do so in their home countries, and that doctors who treat them will not be attacked by zealous prosecutors in restrictive states .
  • Working to get the FDA to make oral hormonal contraceptives available over the counter.
  • Collaborate with national medical associations to ensure access to medically necessary care and laws to protect abortion providers and patients from criminal and civil action between states.

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

Advocacy in Action: Protecting Reproductive Health

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