Washington, DC – Yesterday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), joined by 24 medical organizations, submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging the Mississippi law imposing a ban on the provision of abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy for most individuals.
The amicus brief represents an unprecedented level of support from a diverse group of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals, which demonstrates the concrete medical consensus of opposition to abortion restriction legislation such as the law at the heart of Dobbs v. Jackson.
The brief asks the Court to recognize that Mississippi’s attempt to ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is fundamentally at odds with the provision of safe and essential health care, with scientific evidence, and with medical ethics. In part, the brief states, “The Ban dangerously limits the ability of women at or near 15 weeks’ gestation to obtain the health care they need: some will be forced to travel outside the State to obtain an abortion; others will attempt self-induced abortion; and others still will be forced to carry their pregnancy to term. Each of these outcomes increases the likelihood of negative consequences to a woman’s physical and psychological health that could be avoided if care were available.”
This ban is not grounded on medical evidence and threatens the health and well-being of pregnant individuals, with a disproportionate impact on people from communities of color; those without ample financial resources; and those in rural areas without close proximity to safe, effective reproductive health care. By preventing clinicians from providing patients with necessary medical care, the ban represents gross interference in the patient-clinician relationship and impedes on a clinician’s medical ethics by forcing them to choose between what is right for their patients and adherence to an unscientific, harmful law.
"ACOG has a long history of working within the judiciary system to help protect constitutional rights and the patient-physician relationship. This law is an example of harmful legislative interference into the practice of medicine. The amicus brief represents the strong medical consensus in opposition to this constitutional challenge. ACOG is hopeful the justices of the Supreme Court will value the message in the amicus brief and uphold legal precedent,” said ACOG President J. Martin Tucker, MD, FACOG, speaking on behalf of ACOG.
“Mississippi’s attempt to restrict physicians’ ability to provide safe and effective clinical care in consultation with their patients about their choice of health care options is a direct attack on the patient-physician relationship,” said Gerald E. Harmon, M.D., president of the American Medical Association (AMA), which signed the amicus brief. “The AMA will always stand up against unnecessary government intrusion into the medical examination room. Failure to strike down this unconstitutional law will not only severely compromise patient access to safe reproductive care, particularly for our most marginalized patients, but will jeopardize the overall health of the nation.”
Additional quotes from assorted signatories are below.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): “One of the most dangerous aspects of Mississippi’s law is that it denies patients access to evidence-based, comprehensive care, and prevents them from making decisions about their own health. All individuals of child-bearing age deserve access to the full range of reproductive health options, and they should be able to depend on their physician for guidance. This law disrupts the patient-physician relationship, and with dangerous consequences, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics joined our partners in medicine to support overturning it.” Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, president of AAP
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP): Patients must be able to depend on their physicians to help them make critical decisions about their personal health, including reproductive health. Laws that restrict these services endanger patients and put those of us who provide medical care—or even offer evidence-based information—at risk. This is a law that would interfere with the confidential relationship between patients and their physicians. We strongly urge the courts to strike down this law and similar legislation to protect physicians and their patients. Ada D. Stewart, MD, FAAFP, president of AAFP
American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM): “Our role as midwives is to provide patient-centered, non-judgmental, and evidence-based care regardless of the patient’s pregnancy intention. As sexual and reproductive health care providers throughout the lifespan, midwives’ scope of practice encompasses the full spectrum of abortion care services, regardless of their direct participation in abortion provision. We have a responsibility to the people we serve to ensure that the right to self-determination and access to safe and effective abortion services, including options counseling, ultrasound, comprehensive abortion care, and post-abortion care nationwide is not obstructed.” Cathy Collins-Fulea, DNP, CNM, FACNM, president of ACNM
American College of Physicians (ACP): "ACP strongly opposes any legislation that unnecessarily increases barriers to health care, including reproductive health care services. Our patients have the right to bodily autonomy and to make health care decisions about matters that affect their personal, individual health. The decision that the court makes in this case could have far-reaching implications, access to care needs to be protected for our patients." George M. Abraham, MD, FACP, FIDSA, president of ACP
American Psychiatric Association (APA): “The American Psychiatric Association opposes laws that restrict the relationship between a patient and their physician, Laws regulating abortion should be evidence-based and designed to improve women’s health, and that they should preserve the patient-doctor relationship.” Vivian B. Pender, MD, president of APA
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM): We are pleased to add the voices of the nation’s infertility specialists to those opposing this dreadful law. Decisions about reproductive medical services need to be between patients and their doctors. We don’t need politicians coming between us and our patients.” Hugh Taylor, MD, president of ASRM
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN): “The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) supports this amicus curiae, as our organization believes that any reproductive health care decision is best made by the informed woman and birthing person in consultation with their health care provider. These personal and private decisions are best made within a health care system whose providers respect the patient’s right to confidentiality and the values and ethics of each individual. AWHONN opposes any legislation that limits a health care provider's ability to counsel patients with safe, evidence-based, and essential reproductive care; limiting the ability to have these discussions threatens the health of pregnant patients.” Jonathan Webb, MPH, MBA, chief executive officer of AWHONN
American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA): “AMWA views the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship as non-negotiable, as is the provision of medical care that does not perpetuate health disparities. Restricting access to or banning safe, legal abortions will not end efforts to terminate pregnancies; these restrictions only deter medical procedures that are likely to place a woman’s life at risk. This consequence fails to assure every woman has equal and just access to reproductive health care.
“At AMWA, as women physicians, we support and respect the right of every woman for self-determination regarding if and when she may become and remain pregnant. Just as we did in 2016, when AMWA championed the decision of the Supreme Court in deciding in a 5:3 decision to overturn the restrictions Texas placed on abortion clinics, and, again in 2019, AMWA issued a statement against a very restrictive abortion law passed in Alabama that made it a felony for physicians to care for women who sought to terminate a pregnancy.
“The American Medical Women’s Association urges the end of any and all legal means aimed at limiting the ability of a woman to seek medical care for her own mental and physical well-being. Medical decisions, including those related to reproductive care, should remain outside the realm of politics. Access to health care must be permitted without outside pressures imposed by individuals or groups who are not qualified to make medical decisions.” Jan Werbinski, MD, president of AMWA
Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology (CUCOG): “CUCOG is honored to join ACOG in this amicus brief to oppose interference in the patient-physician relationship and to support comprehensive evidence-based reproductive healthcare.” Eve Espey, MD MPH, president of CUCOG
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH): “NPWH believes everyone has a right to the full range of reproductive health services. The medical community has long been in agreement: that includes abortion care. NPWH supports providers from all backgrounds and personal convictions, dedicated to helping patients live their healthiest lives, in the context of their own personal experience and beliefs. Our members ensure every patient is empowered with the information to make their own decisions about their health, free from judgement or stigma.” Heather L. Maurer, MA, CAE, chief executive officer of NPWH
North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (NASPAG): “NASPAG respects the trusted and sacred relationship between healthcare providers and their patients. We strongly believe that this relationship should not be subject to restrictions placed upon it by outside influences and that health care providers should have the ability to provide any and all healthcare they believe is in the best interests of their patient.”
Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists (SOGH): “Women are more than the vessel for the birth of their children. They are individuals with heartbeats, values and worth. We stand with those working to maintain women’s access to safe reproductive healthcare in their communities.” Kim Puterbaugh, MD, president of SOGH and the SOGH Board of Directors
The Society of Family Planning (SFP): “The Society of Family Planning believes in just and equitable abortion care grounded in science and simply put, this dangerous law is not based on medical evidence. We are proud to join with such a diverse group of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to support the provision of safe and essential health care.” Tessa Madden, MD, MPH, president of SFP