Washington, DC — The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women, has filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of June Medical Services, L.L.C. v. Gee, a case challenging a Louisiana law requiring that clinicians who perform abortion procedures have hospital admitting privileges. ACOG is proud to lead a coalition of 10 major medical organizations in submitting the brief.
The brief argues that precedent dictates that laws regulating abortion should be supported by a valid medical justification and that the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a substantially similar law in Texas, should be applied to Louisiana Act 620.
By requiring that a physician providing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than 30 miles from the clinic at which the physician provides abortions, Louisiana Act 620 is nearly identical to the stricken Texas law. There is nothing unique to Louisiana that makes such a regulation necessary for the well-being of women, the brief argues: “Legal abortions performed in Louisiana prior to the passage of Act 620 were already safe and rarely required hospital admission; admitting privileges are unnecessary for safe patient care and can be difficult or impossible to obtain for reasons unrelated to a clinician’s competence; and imposing these unjustified burdens on abortion providers impedes women’s access to quality, evidence-based medicine.”
In fact, by limiting the ability of physicians to provide abortion care in Louisiana, Act 620 would make it harder for women to receive needed care, delaying their access to abortions and leading to overcrowded clinics. Although abortions are among the safest medical procedures, the rate of complications associated with abortion increases as the pregnancy progresses. Therefore, delays in access only increase the risks to women seeking abortion care. This would make abortion less safe in Louisiana.
When Act 620 passed in 2014, there were five clinics providing abortion care in Louisiana; now there are only three. The district court in the case concluded that enforcing the admitting privileges requirement would likely leave only one physician at one clinic in the state able to provide abortions.
“In 2016, the Supreme Court found that admitting privileges requirements confer no health or safety benefit to women and in fact represent an undue burden on the women seeking care,” said Ted L. Anderson, MD, PhD, president of ACOG. “The women of Louisiana should have the same rights as the women of Texas, and physicians across the country should be able to practice medicine without unjustified, burdensome legislative interference.”
The full amicus brief is available online. Quotes from assorted signatories follow this release.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG 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. www.acog.org
“The American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists is vehemently opposed to any law which restricts access to care and places an undue burden on providers.” — Thomas S. Dardarian, DO, FACOOG, president of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists
"The American College of Physicians is extremely concerned about burdensome and medically unnecessary restrictions placed on health care professionals and facilities. There is no evidence that these requirements improve patient safety, they just serve to reduce patient access to care." — Robert M. McLean, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians
“The American Society for Reproductive Medicine is committed to protecting patient safety and the ability of its members to provide the most appropriate care to their patients. The requirements of the law in question do nothing to increase patient safety; instead, they create conditions that could be manipulated to obstruct medically-appropriate abortion care in Louisiana. We hope that the Supreme Court chooses to follow the precedent it set in Whole Women’s Health and strikes down this law.” — Peter Schlegel, MD, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine
"Nurse practitioners understand that it is crucial to have the ability to provide women with compassionate, individualized health care built on sound science and evidence-based practice. We are committed to offering safe choices and equal access to all women." — Gay Johnson, CEO of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
“The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) opposes policies that limit women’s ability to access abortion services. Unfortunately, the law passed by the Louisiana legislature and signed into law is not centered upon historical data or clear scientific principles and hence acts as yet another unnecessary barrier for women to access the full spectrum of reproductive health services. This access is especially important for high-risk women who face an increased risk of morbidity and mortality as a result of pregnancy. For these women, abortion can be lifesaving, and SMFM is committed to fighting against these unconstitutional, prohibitive measures whose goals are to restrict women’s access to such care and criminalize the practice of medicine.” — Brian Iriye, MD, president of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine