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AMA Stakes Out Opposition to Abortion Restrictions (1)

June 13, 2022, 8:59 PMUpdated: June 13, 2022, 11:29 PM

The American Medical Association went further than it has ever gone in its reproductive health policies as the US Supreme Court nears a decision that could cede abortion rights to the states.

The AMA’s policymaking body voted Monday evening to adopt resolutions that oppose state efforts to criminalize abortion and other reproductive health services.

The preeminent association of physicians and medical students previously had taken the position of tying its abortion-related policies to the law. But that was before it became widely known that the Supreme Court was considering overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The resolutions were approved by unanimous consent Monday evening by the organization’s House of Delegates, said Amar Kelkar, a fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and delegate to the AMA from the American Society of Hematology.

One resolution opposes “limitations on access to evidence-based reproductive health services” and the imposing of criminal or civil penalties on those providing or receiving those services.

The AMA will also “advocate for legal protections for patients who cross state lines,” which is likely to increase as states ban abortion or make it more difficult to access.

Another resolution supports availability of mifepristone, the drug that can be used to induce an abortion, and urges the Food and Drug Administration to lift safety requirements on the drug.

The FDA requires mifepristone be prescribed by a certified health-care provider and dispensed by a certified pharmacy. Some argue these requirements makes the drug more difficult to access.

The AMA House of Delegates also approved a resolution that will create a task force that will “guide organized medicine’s response to bans and restrictions on abortion,” including how they could affect health equity and patient privacy.

“This resolution helps to ensure that abortion will be conclusively seen as an essential part of health care and it tells the world that physicians will not sit quietly in the face of egregious legislative interference,” said Maureen Phipps, CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“The AMA House of Delegates has sent a message that America’s physicians are united in defending their patients’ access to care and in defending their ability to practice medicine without harmful interference, threats, or penalties,” Phipps said.

—With assistance from Celine Castronuovo

(Updates with vote on resolutions; additional details throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Shira Stein in Washington at sstein@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com; Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com