In the Courts
The Voice of Women's Health Care in the Courts
The ACOG Legal Division files amicus briefs on behalf of ACOG. ACOG's amicus briefs provide courts with unbiased, clinically accurate medical information to inform their decisions regarding the provision of women's health care. These briefs incorporate ACOG's clinical guidance, Practice Bulletins, policy statements, and other medical literature and bring this important information to the courts' attention.
ACOG's briefs are routinely relied upon by courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court. Courts recognize ACOG's amicus briefs as authoritative sources of information about women's health, and often include citations to ACOG's briefs in judicial decisions. For this reason, parties to litigation frequently seek ACOG's support.
ACOG’s amicus practice has ensured that the medical community’s voice is heard in a number of significant cases in the areas of women’s health and the practice of medicine more broadly.
ACOG led a coalition of medical groups in filing amicus briefs in support of states, Title X grantees, and the AMA challenging recently enacted rules regarding the Title X Family Planning Program. ACOG's work and evidence submitted by ACOG's members were referenced by the courts when issuing the rulings. Despite some positive initial court decisions, the changes to the Title X program are currently in effect throughout most of the country, as the cases proceed through the courts.
ACOG filed, along with other medical groups, amicus briefs supporting challenges to new federal regulations that undermine copay-free contraception under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ACOG also submitted factual declarations regarding contraception. ACOG's work was referenced in recent rulings preserving copay-free contraception under the ACA.
In early 2020, ACOG joined the AMA in filing a brief in a Maryland’s appellate court in a Byrom v. Johns Hopkins Bayview. The brief illustrated for the court that if it found the hospital liable because physicians provided relevant medical information to a patient and respected that patient’s right to refuse recommended care, the court would upend longstanding principles of medical ethics and legal precedent on informed consent.
In fall of 2019, ACOG joined the AMA in filing a brief in the Oregon Supreme Court in a case (Busch v. McInnis) that could stand to open the door for a re-examination of whether the state’s cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional. At the time of the law’s passage, ACOG’s Oregon Section testified in support of this cap before the state legislature, citing its impact of medical practice in the state.
In 2018, ACOG filed a brief in the Texas Supreme Court (Texas Health Presbyterian v. D.A.) to explain the need for emergency care provisions protective of physicians to apply equally to care rendered in emergent situations in the obstetric unit, regardless of whether the patient presented through the emergency department. The Court ruled in favor ACOG's position and applied the liability protections to emergency care provided exclusively in the obstetrical unit.
ACOG's work has been cited in a number of decisions that protect our members' ability to provide abortion care to their patients without undue government interference and that preserve women's access to care. Notably, ACOG's amicus brief was cited by the majority and concurring justices of the Supreme Court of the United States in striking down medically unnecessary requirements for abortion care providers in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.
ACOG led a medical community brief filed before the Supreme Court in June Medical Services v. Russo, a case challenging an admitting privilege law virtually identical to the one at issue in Whole Woman’s Health.