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ACOG Strongly Supports Caitlin Bernard, MD, MS, FACOG


The following is a statement from Christopher M. Zahn, MD, FACOG, interim CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

“A valued member of the ACOG community has recently been forced to defend herself from a political attack for providing evidence-based care to a patient and for sharing that experience in order to educate others. As Caitlin Bernard, MD, MS, FACOG, faces ongoing recriminations in a hostile environment, ACOG strongly thanks Dr. Bernard for her commitment to patients and for speaking out in opposition to ideological challenges to the patient–physician relationship.

“Obstetrician–gynecologists advocate for their patients every day: negotiating with payers to ensure coverage of a needed therapy, speaking with legislators to advance sound health policies, and working with hospital administrators to improve systems for delivery of care. These are all obligations of obstetrician–gynecologists, who every day face barriers to providing patients with access to care—especially in states in which that care is criminalized.

“Another critical way in which obstetrician–gynecologists advocate for their patients is by telling their stories so that the public and politicians can learn about the ways in which destructive health policies cause harm. This common, essential part of advocacy is done in a way that reflects patient privacy and follows protective laws. Dr. Bernard’s choice to do so was clearly made with careful consideration of patient privacy and of the potential for the public to benefit from the heartbreaking story she told.

“These types of stories help people understand the depth and breadth of the pain and the harm that abortion bans cause. By sharing her experience—in an appropriate, respectful way—of providing care to a patient in need, Dr. Bernard helped illuminate to her community and the country that abortion bans compound tragedy with tragedy. Without these stories, the public can never and will never understand the grievous harms that are happening to patients across the country as a result of abortion bans, even in states where abortion care is not restricted.

“As Dr. Bernard charts her way past this attack on her professionalism and personal ethics, ACOG asserts our support of her and many more obstetrician–gynecologists who daily have to navigate ethical quagmires and professional obstacles as a result of harmful, destructive abortion bans. It is unacceptable that Dr. Bernard’s experience will likely not be an exception as our members continue to practice medicine in an environment in which doing so subjects them to legal and professional attacks.”

Members with specific legal questions should consult their institution’s lawyers and can also reach out to the Abortion Defense Network, a program that connects people who have legal questions related to abortion care with attorneys who provide legal advice and representation in civil and criminal proceedings.