With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, ACP will work with state chapters to advocate for patient autonomy and access to reproductive health care services
July 8, 2022 (ACP) — The American College of Physicians is deeply disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, eliminating the national right to abortion, and will shift much of its focus to the states, where multiple battles over reproductive freedoms will be waged over the months to come.
“Until now, we've been largely focusing on advocacy at the federal level,” said Shari Erickson, ACP chief advocacy officer and senior vice president. “Going forward, we'll be working even more with our state chapters as they engage on this issue. And we'll be investigating how to help our members in states that prohibit or ban abortion as they grapple with how to provide guidance to patients.”
In alliance with other medical societies, ACP has been a leading national voice in advocacy for patient autonomy and access for all patients to the full range of reproductive health care services, including abortion.
The Supreme Court ruling to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision was not unexpected. On May 2, Politico published a leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Investigations into the unprecedented leak are ongoing. On June 24, as National Public Radio reported, in a final decision, the justices ruled that “the constitutional right to abortion, upheld for nearly a half century, no longer exists.”
The ruling triggered anti-abortion laws to go into effect in multiple states. According to The Guardian, abortion is now banned in six states, including Wisconsin and Missouri, and bans or severe restrictions are expected to soon go into place in as many as 13 states.
Meanwhile, the fate of abortion is considered to be threatened in 11 states, including Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia, among others. According to The Guardian, abortion rights are protected in only 20 states and Washington, D.C.
ACP sharply criticized the ruling, and it joined the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Psychiatric Association in issuing a statement: “This ruling will curtail access to critical reproductive health care for millions of people across the country, will grow the health inequities that already exist in the medical system, and will set a dangerous precedent for legislative interference across medicine,” the societies write.
ACP is also worried that the ruling could have other ramifications. “We strongly oppose medically unnecessary government restrictions on any health care services,” Dr. Ryan D. Mire, president of ACP, said in a statement. “ACP is concerned that by eroding the constitutional right to privacy, the decision has the potential to restrict the ability of patients to access contraception or fertility treatments in some states, or to threaten other constitutional privacy protections.”
Going forward, ACP is gearing up to support its state chapters as they work to protect the rights of patients. ACP has already posted an informational toolkit that includes items for chapters to consider as they engage with their state legislatures and the public.
Members can also visit the State Health Policy page where they can connect with ACP staff. “We'll be tracking the inquiries coming in and responding to them in a timely manner so that we can help chapters be informed and take action,” Erickson noted.
In the big picture, she said, “we'll be engaging in advocacy and providing information. And we'll explore areas where we may need to update our positions so we can speak out as new challenges evolve. We have much more work to do.”
The advocacy toolkit, “The U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Roe v. Wade: What It Means for Reproductive Health,” is available on the ACP website.