Washington, DC—President Thomas Gellhaus, MD of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released the following statement regarding the New England Journal of Medicine piece of Correspondence that finds significant increases in abortion requests in Latin America since the start of the Zika epidemic:
"ACOG has long recognized that access to reproductive services, including abortion care, is essential for all women. The New England Journal of Medicine piece of Correspondence provides alarming insight on how the Zika virus is affecting the lives of pregnant women.
"All women, must have the legal right to abortion, unconstrained by harassment, unavailability of care, procedure bans, or other legislative or regulatory barriers. The Zika crisis makes it impossible to ignore that women around the world do not have access to this basic health care need.
"Further, research and experience have shown that where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, women resort to desperate, dangerous means to end unwanted pregnancies, including self-inflicted trauma, consumption of chemicals, self-medication, and even unqualified, untrained and likely unsafe abortion providers.
"During the Zika crisis health care providers must respect and support the reproductive rights of women and the decisions they make after appropriate counseling. ACOG affirms that respect for conscience is important, but an individual physician’s conscientious objection should never create a barrier to a patient’s access to reproductive health care. Women must have urgent access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services to avoid the potentially tragic consequences of Zika exposure.”
ACOG’s latest guidance on the Zika virus can be found here.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org