Washington, DC—The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) led a coalition of medical organizations in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States yesterday regarding EMW Women’s Surgical Center v. Meier. The case challenges Kentucky law H.B.2, which requires women’s health care clinicians to show, describe, and share sounds from fetal ultrasounds to patients prior to an abortion. The law forces women to hear or see unwanted information, even if the patient asks the clinician to stop.
ACOG, the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women, and the coalition ask the Court to take up the case and reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The brief explains that the law does not provide patients with medical benefit, and specifically causes harm to patients. The law also is virtually identical to one previously struck down by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
“Patients who are forced to hear unwanted information may feel coerced or otherwise pressured in a way that erodes their ability to give informed consent. It is contrary to sound medical practice to force clinicians to convey information that will harm their patients,” according to the amicus brief ACOG led a coalition in filing.
“H.B. 2 is another example of laws that hold reproductive health to a different standard than other types of health care,” said Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, chief executive officer of ACOG. “In no other field of medicine are patients required by law to view images of the inside of their own body under the guise of understanding their medical or physical condition.”
The law also interferes with the patient-physician relationship, the brief adds: “Clinicians—not the Commonwealth—are in the best position to work collaboratively with patients to determine what medical information a patient should receive based on a patient’s particular circumstances. Further, forcing clinicians to disregard their professional judgment by subjecting patients to information the patient does not wish to receive undermines trust and places the clinician and her patient in an unnecessarily, and potentially harmful, adversarial relationship.”
“The patient-physician relationship is at the heart of health care, and that relationship is based on trust, honesty, and confidentiality. Forcing a physician to ignore the stated wishes of a patient, with absolutely no medical benefit to the patient, clearly erodes this relationship,” Dr. Phipps said.
The brief recognizes that health care providers previously offered patients a pre-abortion ultrasound, but H.B. 2 eliminates the patients’ choice from the shared decision-making process by forcing the ultrasound, and its description, upon the patient.
Joining ACOG on the brief are the American Medical Association, the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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