The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, has publicly come out against the state-level abortion restrictions that impact the way doctors are allowed to treat their patients. The group’s Executive Board has issued an official statement opposing all laws that “unduly interfere with patient-physician relationships” and compromise patients’ health care for political gain.
“Given the relentless legislative assault on the patient-physician relationship that we’ve seen in the past few years — and unfortunately continue to see — we were compelled to issue a formal Statement of Policy,” the group’s president, Dr. Jeanne A. Conry, explained in a press release. “A disproportionate number of these types of laws are aimed at women’s reproductive rights and the physicians that provide women’s health care services.”
In its formal statement, the doctors’ group criticized specific pieces of anti-abortion legislation that comes between women and their doctors — including forced ultrasound laws that require women seeking abortions to look at an image of their fetus before continuing with the medical procedure, “disclosure” laws that require doctors to tell women about the scientifically disputed link between abortion and breast cancer, and laws that require doctors to use an outdated procedure for administering the abortion pill.
The OB-GYNs point out that these type of laws allow legislators, instead of doctors, to set medical protocol. When doctors aren’t allowed to follow the current accepted medical practice because of a politically-motivated law, they aren’t able to provide their patients with the best quality of care. That dynamic has contributed to a serious shortage of women’s health doctors in states with harsh abortion restrictions, since medical professionals would rather avoid situations in which they may have to choose between providing their patients with the best health care and following a complicated state law.
“We are speaking out not just on behalf of OB-GYNs, but for all physicians and patients,” Dr. Conry noted. “Many of these laws are dangerous to patients’ health and safety. As physicians, we are obligated to offer the best evidence-based care to our patients. Government should stay out of imposing its political agenda on medical practice.”
This isn’t the first time that the College has weighed in on an area of women’s health that has become overly politicized by elected officials. Last fall, the group came out in support of improving women’s access to birth control by allowing them to buy it over the counter. It has repeatedly encouraged doctors to help reduce unintended pregnancies by providing teens with long-lasting contraception like IUDs. And, as the Obama Administration has continued to advocate imposing age restrictions on over-the-counter emergency contraception, OB-GYNs have reiterated that they don’t support preventing young teens from buying Plan B without a prescription.