The American Medical Association is deeply troubled by the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nearly half a century of precedent protecting patients’ rights to essential reproductive health care. This is a blatant acceptance of government intrusion into the medical examination room, a direct attack on the practice of medicine and the patient-doctor relationship, and a brazen violation of the rights of patients to evidence-based reproductive health services.
States that end legal abortion will not end abortion – they will end safe abortion, risking devastating consequences, including the lives of patients.
Today’s view that puts reproductive health decision-making in the hands of legislators is opening up a deep political divide between states regarding access to reproductive health services, which endangers sound medical practice and the patient health. State restrictions that impinge on the practice of medicine and interfere with the patient-doctor relationship leave millions of people with little or no access to reproductive health services while criminalizing medical care.
Access to legal reproductive care will be limited to those with the resources, circumstances and financial means to do so, exacerbating health inequities by placing the greatest burden on black, Latino, indigenous, low-income, rural and other historically disadvantaged people. communities that already face many structural and systemic barriers to accessing health care.
Consistent with our longstanding position that early termination of pregnancy is a medical matter between patient and physician, subject only to the clinical judgment of the physician and the informed consent of the patient, the AMA condemns the interpretation of the High Court in this case.
Although federal constitutional protections on abortion have been rolled back, this fight is far from over.
State after state, our AMA will continue to vigorously oppose government or other third-party interference in the patient-physician relationship, which is the foundation upon which medical decision-making and the delivery of effective health care are based.
WADA will seek to expand legal protection for patients and physicians against government systems of control and sanction that criminalize reproductive health services. This includes protections for patients who cross state lines to receive reproductive health services, as well as for physicians who support or provide health services or refer patients who cross state lines, in accordance to the news policy adopted by our AMA House of Delegates in June.
The AMA is committed to its long-standing opposition to the criminalization of medical practice and will continue to challenge criminal or civil penalties imposed on patients who receive reproductive health services, as well as physicians, other health, health systems and patient advocates for aiding, assisting, supporting, or providing reproductive health services or referring patients.
Sharp political divisions have always clouded the issue of abortion and made substantive conversations difficult. What cannot be argued is that abortion is a component of reproductive health care and that by allowing states to restrict or ban these services outright, we endanger the health and well-being – be people who request an abortion.
State legislators who take the position that restricting or eliminating abortion on the pretext of “protecting women’s health” must realize that this claim has absolutely no basis in medical science. Evidence and experience show us conclusively that the risk of death during or after childbirth is about 14 times higher than the risk of death from abortion-related complications.
State laws that severely restrict or prohibit abortion will not permanently end this problem, but they will endanger the physical and psychological health of those who will then be forced to travel to another state to receive one, attempt self-directed abortions or who are forced to carry their pregnancies to term. Each of these scenarios puts them at higher risk of injury, injury, or death.
AMA policy recognizes that our members’ individual views on abortion are determined by their own values and beliefs, and supports patient access to the full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion, as a right. These policies are the result of an evidence-based, democratic process in which physicians representing all specialties, red states and blue states, urban and rural communities, and practices large and small come together in our House of Delegates.
It is the ethical responsibility of every physician to help their patients choose the optimal treatment through shared decision-making fully informed by evidence-based medical science and ultimately shaped by patient autonomy. Anything less puts patients at risk and undermines both the practice of medicine and the health of our nation. While the health of millions of patients is at stake following the Dobbs decision, rest assured that this is a fight that we will not give up.
We will always have the doctors’ backs and defend the practice of medicine. We will fight to protect the patient-physician relationship and oppose any law or regulation that compromises or criminalizes patient access to safe, evidence-based medical care, including abortion.