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January 2015

Committee Opinion Number 617, January 2015

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 403, April 2008) (Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Obstetrician–gynecologists care for women throughout their lifespans and are in an ideal position to have ongoing discussions with healthy patients about their values and wishes regarding future care and to encourage them to complete an advance directive for health care. In addition, situations may arise in which obstetrician–gynecologists need to participate in end-of-life care. When end-of-life decisions need to be made while a woman is pregnant, the level of ethical complexity often is increased. The purpose of this Committee Opinion is to discuss ethical issues related to end-of...


Committee Opinion Number 578, November 2013

(Reaffirmed 2016. Replaces No. 395, January 2008)

ABSTRACT: Acknowledgment of the importance of patient autonomy and increased patient access to information, such as information on the Internet, has prompted more patient-generated requests for surgical interventions not traditionally recommended. Depending on the context, acceding to a request for a surgical option that is not traditionally recommended can be ethical. Decisions about acceding to patient requests for nontraditional surgical interventions should be based on strong support for patients’ informed preferences and values; understood in the context of an interpretive conversation; ...


Committee Opinion Number 456, March 2010

(Reaffirmed 2017)

ABSTRACT: In this Committee Opinion, the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses the College's ongoing efforts to promote a just health care system, explores justifications that inform just health care, and identifies professional responsibilities to guide the College and its members in advancing the cause of health care reform.


Committee Opinion Number 664, June 2016

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 321, November 2005)

ABSTRACT: One of the most challenging scenarios in obstetric care occurs when a pregnant patient refuses recommended medical treatment that aims to support her well-being, her fetus’s well-being, or both. In such circumstances, the obstetrician–gynecologist’s ethical obligation to safeguard the pregnant woman’s autonomy may conflict with the ethical desire to optimize the health of the fetus. Forced compliance—the alternative to respecting a patient’s refusal of treatment—raises profoundly important issues about patient rights, respect for autonomy, violations of bodily integrity, power diffe...


Committee Opinion Number 363, April 2007

(Reaffirmed 2015)

ABSTRACT: Recommendations to patients about testing should be based on current medical knowledge, a concern for the patient's best interests, and mutual consultation. In addition to establishing a diagnosis, testing provides opportunities to educate, inform, and advise. The ethical principles of respect for autonomy (patient choice) and beneficence (concern for the patient's best interests) should guide the testing, counseling, and reporting process. Clear and ample communication fosters trust, facilitates access to services, and improves the quality of medical care.


Committee Opinion Number 501, August 2011

(Reaffirmed 2017)

ABSTRACT: The past two decades have yielded profound advances in the fields of prenatal diagnosis and fetal intervention. Although fetal interventions are driven by a beneficence-based motivation to improve fetal and neonatal outcomes, advancement in fetal therapies raises ethical issues surrounding maternal autonomy and decision making, concepts of innovation versus research, and organizational aspects within institutions in the development of fetal care centers. To safeguard the interests of both the pregnant woman and the fetus, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and t...


Committee Opinion Number 427, February 2009

ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization estimates that 67,000 women, mostly in developing countries, die each year from untreated or inadequately treated abortion complications. Postabortion care, a term commonly used by the international reproductive health community, refers to a specific set of services for women experiencing problems from all types of spontaneous or induced abortion. There is increasing evidence that misoprostol is a safe, effective, and acceptable method to achieve uterine evacuation for women needing postabortion care. To reduce maternal mortality, availability of postab...


Committee Opinion Number 739, June 2018

ABSTRACT: The American Medical Association reported in 2015 that physicians 65 years and older currently represent 23% of the physicians in the United States. Unlike other professions such as commercial airline pilots, who by law must have regular health screenings starting at 40 years and must retire at 65 years, few health care institutions or systems have any policies regarding the late-career physician. Although there is an increase in accumulated wisdom and verbal knowledge with age, there is also an overall decline in recall memory, cognitive processing efficiency, and executive reasoni...


Committee Opinion Number 599, May 2014

(Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Confidentiality concerns are heightened during adolescence, and these concerns can be a critical barrier to adolescents in receiving appropriate health care. Health care providers caring for minors should be aware of federal and state laws that affect confidentiality. State statutes on the rights of minors to consent to health care services vary by state, and health care providers should be familiar with the regulations that apply to their practice. Parents and adolescents should be informed, both separately and together, that the information each of them shares with the health care...


Committee Opinion Number 633, June 2015

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 422, December 2008) (Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Alcohol abuse and other substance use disorders are major, often underdiagnosed health problems for women, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, and have resulting high costs for individuals and society. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, defines substance use disorder as a pathologic pattern of behaviors related to the use of any of 10 separate classes of substances, including alcohol and licit and illicit substances. In order to optimize care of patients with substance use disorder, obstetrician–gynecologists are encou...


Committee Opinion Number 646, November 2015

(Replaces Committee Opinion No. 307, December 2004
and Committee Opinion No. 377, September 2007)
(Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Inclusion of women in research studies is necessary for valid inferences about health and disease in women. The generalization of results from trials conducted in men may yield erroneous conclusions that fail to account for the biologic differences between men and women. Although significant changes in research design and practice have led to an increase in the proportion of women included in research trials, knowledge gaps remain because of a continued lack of inclusion of women, especially those who are pregnant, in premarketing research trials. This document provides a historical...


Committee Opinion Number 665, June 2016

(Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Considerable uncertainty exists about what constitutes appropriate levels of protection for adolescents as research participants and about the need for parental permission. The ethical principles that govern research include respect for individuals, beneficence, and justice, as articulated in the Belmont Report. Researchers should be familiar with and adhere to current federal regulations 45 C.F.R. § 46, and federal and state laws that affect research with minors. Investigators should understand the importance of caregiver permission—and ethically appropriate situations in which to ...


Committee Opinion Number 667, July 2016

(Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Emergency departments typically have structured triage guidelines for health care providers encountering the diverse cases that may present to their units. Such guidelines aid in determining which patients must be evaluated promptly and which may wait safely, and aid in determining anticipated use of resources. Although labor and delivery units frequently serve as emergency units for pregnant women, the appropriate structure, location, timing, and timeliness for hospital-based triage evaluations of obstetric patients are not always clear. Hospital-based obstetric units are urged to ...


Committee Opinion Number 756, October 2018

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 658, February 2016)

ABSTRACT: As reproductive health experts and advocates for women’s health who work in conjunction with other obstetric and pediatric health care providers, obstetrician–gynecologists are uniquely positioned to enable women to achieve their infant feeding goals. Maternity care policies and practices that support breastfeeding are improving nationally; however, more work is needed to ensure all women receive optimal breastfeeding support during prenatal care, during their maternity stay, and after the birth occurs. Enabling women to breastfeed is a public health priority because, on a populatio...


Committee Opinion Number 625, March 2015

(Reaffirmed 2019)

ABSTRACT: Women with dense breasts have a modestly increased risk of breast cancer and experience reduced sensitivity of mammography to detect breast cancer. However, evidence is lacking to advocate for additional testing until there are clinically validated data that indicate improved screening outcomes. Currently, screening mammography remains the most useful tool for breast cancer detection and consistently has demonstrated a reduction in breast cancer mortality. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend routine use of alternative or adjunctive tests to scr...


Committee Opinion Number 750, September 2018

ABSTRACT: Gynecologic surgery is very common: hysterectomy alone is one of the most frequently performed operating room procedures each year. It is well known that surgical stress induces a catabolic state that leads to increased cardiac demand, relative tissue hypoxia, increased insulin resistance, impaired coagulation profiles, and altered pulmonary and gastrointestinal function. Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) pathways were developed with the goal of maintaining normal physiology in the perioperative period, thus optimizing patient outcomes without increasing postoperative complicat...


Committee Opinion Number 434, June 2009

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 285, August 2003) Reaffirmed 2018

Abstract: The relationship between induced abortion and the subsequent development of breast cancer has been the subject of a substantial amount of epidemiologic study. Early studies of the relationship between prior induced abortion and breast cancer risk were methodologically flawed. More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.


Committee Opinion Number 642, October 2015

(Replaces Committee Opinion Number 450, December 2009) (Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Unintended pregnancy persists as a major public health problem in the United States. Although lowering unintended pregnancy rates requires multiple approaches, individual obstetrician–gynecologists may contribute by increasing access to contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices. Obstetrician–gynecologists should encourage consideration of implants and intrauterine devices for all appropriate candidates, including nulliparous women and adolescents. Obstetrician–gynecologists should adopt best practices for long-acting reversible contraception insertion. Obstetrician–gynecologis...


Committee Opinion Number 570, August 2013

(Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Maternal and infant benefits from breastfeeding are well documented and are especially important to underserved women. Underserved women are disproportionately likely to experience adverse health outcomes that may improve with breastfeeding. They face unique barriers and have low rates of initiation and continuation of breastfeeding. Through a multidisciplinary approach that involves practitioners, family members, and child care providers, obstetrician–gynecologists can help underserved women overcome obstacles and obtain the benefits of breastfeeding for themselves and their infant...


Committee Opinion Number 515, January 2012

(Reaffirmed 2018)

ABSTRACT: Sixty percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women live in metropolitan areas. Most are not eligible for health care provided by the federal Indian Health Service (IHS). The IHS partly funds 34 Urban Indian Health Organizations, which vary in size and services. Some are small informational and referral sites that are limited even in the scope of outpatient services provided. Compared with other urban populations, urban American Indian and Alaska Native women have higher rates of teenaged pregnancy, late or no prenatal care, and alcohol and tobacco use in pregnancy. Their infan...


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