AMA Announces New Policies Supporting Reproductive Health Care Rights

Policies include opposition to government involvement in medical practice and support of access to abortion care.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has announced its adoption of several policies aimed at ensuring access to reproductive health care and opposing government involvement in the practice of medicine following the Dobbs decision.

These policies, which were adopted by the AMA House of Delegates at their Interim Meeting, include the opposition of criminalization for pregnancy loss resulting from medically necessary care, expansion of support for access to abortion care, preservation of access to abortion training for physicians-in-training, and clarification of ethical guidance related to abortion bans.1

Opposing criminalization: The recent changes in abortion laws following the Dobbs decision have resulted in physicians and medical offices, pharmacies, and insurance providers restricting medically necessary care, as they—in addition to pregnant patients—could face criminal prosecution for seeking or providing access to this medically necessary care. The AMA will oppose criminal charges against both patients and physicians in these cases.

Expanding access to care: The AMA will advocate for public health programs and coverage of these services by private insurers with the aim of providing broad and equitable access to abortion care. The AMA will also advocate that lawmakers codify legal protections for physicians who provide abortion care.

Preserving access to abortion training: Nearly 45% of accredited programs for obstetrics and gynecology residents are in states that have banned abortion or are likely to do so, even though the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education requires access to abortion training for these residents.1 The AMA will advocate for the availability of abortion education and for the funding of institutions that provide clinical training for reproductive health services. The AMA will also support pathways for medical students, residents, and physicians to receive abortion training at alternate locations in cases where this training is limited or criminalized by their home institutions.

Clarification of ethical guidance: The AMA has revised its Principles of Medical Ethics to clarify that physicians are permitted to perform abortions as part of good medical practice. This is in alignment with the AMA’s opposition of government intrusion into the therapeutic alliance between patients and physicians, as such intrusion prevents physicians from exercising their professional judgment and undermines their obligation to protect the wellbeing of their patients. The AMA will also provide support—including legal support—to physicians and medical students where needed, and additional resources to help physicians navigate the ethical and legal aspects of the post-Dobbs era.

“Since the Dobbs decision, health care in the United States has been thrown into chaos, with life-or-death decisions deferred to hospital lawyers, patients needing care driven across state lines, and uncertainty over the future of access to reproductive health care,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr, MD, in a press release.

“The AMA is steadfastly opposed to governmental interference in the practice of medicine, especially for well-established, medically necessary treatments. Patients and physicians need assurances that they won’t be accused of crimes for medically necessary treatment.”

Resneck added that these new policies will help the AMA continue its advocacy efforts and support physicians in providing reproductive health care, including defending them in courts and legislatures where necessary. He said, “reproductive care is health care. It’s that simple.”

Reference

1. AMA announces new adopted policies related to reproductive health care. American Medical Association. News release. November 16, 2022. Accessed November 18, 2022. https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/ama-announces-new-adopted-policies-related-reproductive-health-care#:~:text=Under%20the%20new%20policy%2C%20the,illegal%20in%20a%20home%20institution