Story at a glance
- The American Medical Association is expanding its policies in a rebuttal to states that have enacted strict abortion bans.
- The leading medical association will expand legal protections for patients and doctors against government systems that criminalize abortion and contraception services.
- The announcement comes as the country awaits a pivotal Supreme Court decision that could overturn the constitutional right to access an abortion.
The largest medical association in the country has declared it will take any necessary legal steps to protect patients and doctors that seek and administer reproductive health services — including abortion and contraception.
The American Medical Association (AMA) announced Tuesday it was implementing a new policy that will expand legal protection for patients and physicians against government systems of control and punishment that criminalize reproductive health services.
It’s taking direct aim at multiple states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, Mississippi and more, that have enacted strict abortion bans. Many do not include exceptions for rape or incest and allow abortion providers to be sued and charged.
The AMA described governments intruding into medicine and impeding access to reproductive health services as, “a violation of human rights.”
The medical association said it has always been opposed to the criminalization of medical practice and will, “continue to challenge criminal or civil penalties on patients who receive reproductive health services, as well as physicians, other health professionals.”
“The new policy also calls for AMA to seek legal protections for patients who cross state lines to receive reproductive health services, as well as legal protections for physicians and others who support or provide reproductive health services or referrals to patients who cross state lines,” said Jack Resneck, Jr., AMA president.
The push to protect abortion access comes as the country awaits a pivotal Supreme Court decision on the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case — and a draft opinion leaked in May suggested the court is ready to overturn the constitutional right to seek an abortion.
The AMA has close ties to the Dobbs case, with the medical association filing an amicus brief alongside dozens of medical organizations that affirmed abortion is safe medical care and is a decision that should be left to a patient and their doctor.
In a viewpoint published last year, AMA president Gerald E. Harmon argued the Mississippi case was a misguided attempt to protect women’s health that has no basis in medical science.
“Ample evidence shows that the risk of death during or after childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than the risk of death from abortion-related complications,” said Harmon.
Many states and cities have taken similar steps to protect abortion access ahead of the court’s decision, such as the city of Austin, Texas — in a state where abortions are banned after six weeks of pregnancy — which proposed an act that would prevent the prosecution of so-called abortion crimes.
The resolution would restrict city funds from being used to investigate any kind of alleged abortion crimes and would instruct the city’s police department to treat abortion as the “lowest priority” for criminal enforcement, arrest and investigation.
Connecticut made similar moves, approving a bill that would prevent state and local agencies from cooperating in investigations and prosecutions of abortion providers in the state, as well as preventing an out-of-state patient’s medical records from being disclosed.