Issue: Promote policies that seek to protect access to a full range of vital reproductive services, including abortion, and protect the patient-physician relationship.
Why Action is Needed
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that guaranteed the federal right to abortion. The court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a monumental setback to reproductive health care, not only restricting access to abortion services but also potentially jeopardizing access to other related medical services, such as contraception or fertility treatments in some states. Its implications could also threaten constitutional privacy protections, criminalize the provision of a range of health care services, and do irreparable harm to the patient-physician relationship. As a result of the decision, which the American College of Physicians (ACP) strongly opposed, abortion access has been severely curtailed or entirely banned in 24 states. Other states are now likely to pass similarly restrictive policies now that the federal protections have been eliminated.
ACP believes policymakers should respect the principle of patient autonomy and ensure access for all patients to the full range of reproductive health care services, including abortion. ACP also believes that such reproductive health care decisions are foundational to the patient-physician relationship. Deciding whether to continue a pregnancy should be a private decision made by a patient in consultation with a physician or other health care professional, without interference from the government. We strongly oppose medically unnecessary government restrictions on any health care services. ACP is committed to protecting the patient-physician relationship and ensuring that our patients can access necessary services and that governmental interference does not prevent access to evidence-based care. In our most recent paper, “Reproductive Health Policy in the United States: An ACP Policy Brief (2023),” we make recommendations to protect patient access to care through the freedom to travel to seek medical care, the ability to receive prescription medication in the mail or via other shipping and delivery services, and to oppose efforts to criminalize the practice of medicine and restrict access to care.
Call to Action
- Support $400 million for the Title X Family Service Grants in Fiscal Year 2024. This funding supports a broad range of services related to achieving pregnancy, preventing pregnancy, and assisting women, men, and couples with achieving their desired number of children. Regardless of which state someone resides in, everyone in America should have sufficient access to evidence-based family planning and sexual health information and the full range of services supported through Title X family planning programs.
- Support H.R. 459, the Secure Access for Essential Reproductive (SAFER) Health Act, which would strengthen health privacy laws to ensure that abortion-related health data cannot be shared without patient consent.
- Support federal legislation, such as the Women’s Health Protection Act to codify a right to reproductive health care services, including abortion, in federal statute.